This story was updated June 22, 2018, at 4:42 p.m. with more information.
Renderings for the new 95,000-square-foot Fall Creek Falls State Park Inn were released Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
The $29.4 million facility in Tennessee's largest and most-visited state park is expected to be completed in 2020 and features lodging, a restaurant and conference center. Construction is scheduled to begin late this year.
"This design provides the amenities our visitors have come to expect in a way that complements the one-of-a-kind backdrop that is Fall Creek Falls," TDEC Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill said in a news release. "The new inn, restaurant and conference center will serve as a symbol of the commitment by Governor [Bill] Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly to revitalize our state park system and sustain rural economic development for the future."
The facility is operated by TDEC. Haslam attempted to privatize the hospitality services at the park, but the facilities were in such disrepair that no for-profit companies wanted them. State building commission members voted to cancel a years-old plan to renovate the inn during their Nov. 9, 2017 meeting. At the time, TDEC commissioner Bob Martineau said the "state of the facility dictated doing a more complete rebuild of that project." The Haslam administration received approval from the building commission to rebuild the facility in late 2017.
The early design phase was approved by the building commission on June 14 with a goal of evoking the natural setting of the park. The facility includes three floors with suites, gathering areas and the large conference center. Paths connect the facility to existing recreational trails.
"The inn is designed to provide spacious views of the lake and of the park's natural forest that will evoke long-lasting memories for visitors," Ron Lustig, the principal-in-charge of the project at Earl Swensson Associates, said in the release. "We are honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the experience of nature at one of the state's premier parks."
State officials estimate the facility will generate $278,000 per year in sales and occupancy taxes — a growth of $90,000 annually from the previous facility.
"Fall Creek Falls is a Tennessee treasure for local citizens and visitors alike and the jewel of our state park system," wrote state Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta. "It is an impressive piece of our state's exceptional landscape, and I'm proud that we were able to make this investment to enrich our community for many generations to come."