hoo boy, looks like al's gonna be one of the few 'class' acts that's gonna hit this stage any time soon
... i'm sure it's gonna be a great show, though!
Move over bears - Dick Clark is on the way.
A giant retail store in Sevier County that once housed thousands of stuffed teddy bears has been purchased by a Florida company that plans to transform it into an American Bandstand-themed theater and museum.
Riptide Entertainment of Miami paid $12.9 million for slightly more than 38 acres of property and a 130,000-square-foot store at 149 Cates Lane in Pigeon Forge.
The property was formerly home to Boyds Bear Country, a five-story, barn-shaped retail property owned by Pennsylvania-based The Boyds Collection, which makes collectible teddy bears. The store opened in 2004 and was one of only two run by the company nationwide. It was closed last year when the company decided to focus on retail sales through independent vendors.
According to a regulatory filing by its parent company, Riptide was formed to develop, own and operate "Ripley's Believe It or Not" museum locations throughout the world. In 2006, according to a news release, Riptide purchased a license to use the trade name "Dick Clark's American Bandstand" in the development and production of live musical tribute shows.
Keith Widmer, a broker with R.M. Moore Real Estate Co. in Knoxville, represented Boyds Collection on the deal. Widmer said the Pigeon Forge property will be called the Dick Clark's American Bandstand Complex.
The broker said the company plans to have an outdoor concert series on the site this summer, and will eventually build a new theater at the location, and possibly two. He said plans call for the existing building to house a restaurant and museum and gift shop, and the company also plans a Dick Clark-themed hotel and condominiums.
Officials with Riptide could not be reached for comment.
Widmer said the new owners have been working with John Stuart, founder of the Las Vegas musical impersonation show "Legends in Concert", which features knock-offs of performers including Ricky Martin, Whitney Houston and Elvis Presley.
Widmer said the owners of the Pigeon Forge property would like to bring a similar show to East Tennessee. "They want to bring in Las Vegas quality to Sevier County," he said.