Shagbark Resort is one of the early cabin and vacation rental communities in the Smoky Mountains. Developed in 1972 with over 700 lots on nearly 1,300 acres, Shagbark (along with Chalet Village), were pioneers in large-scale vacation rental developments. Not only in Sevier County, Tennessee but in the United States. Shagbark billed itself in early brochures and documents as “The year-round living and resort community of the Great Smoky Mountains”.
The development offers a manned gated entry and several amenities such as a community pool, clubhouse/office, tennis courts, playground, frisbee golf area, and more. Shagbark, at the gated entrance, is located in the Waldens Creek area 6.4 miles and approximately 12 minutes to the Parkway at light #3 in Pigeon Forge.
The developer, Mountain States Development Company (C.C. “Buddy” Pack), signed Shagbark’s original covenants and restrictions on March 15, 1972 (more on that later) creating what is now known as Shagbark. It is comprised of several different parcels to encompass the nearly 1,300 acres including large tracts originally purchased in 1971 and 1972.
Over its long history the prominent gated resort has experienced its share of market fluctuations, tribulations (even appearing in an article in the New York Times in 1981), and improvements over time. This article will take you on its journey from the original development to current day. And eventually, at the end, list properties and cabins for sale in Shagbark.
Shagbark Resort Early History
Sevier County in 1972 was nothing like it is today. Other than Gatlinburg, it was still very rural, mountainous, and undeveloped. The development of Shagbark instituted a change in the area. An article by Betty Bear in The Knoxville Journal once described the nearly 1,300 acre development as “tony”. Quite a departure from other things in Sevier County during the early 1970’s. Especially in the Waldens Creek area.
In Betty Bean’s Knoxville Journal article it also stated:
“For a time, Shagbark prospered. Wealthy and influential people moved in among them former U.S. senator and presidential candidate, George McGovern, who still owns a summer home there”
The developer originally purchased the first parcel to what would become Shagbark from L.P. Stark and Billie H. Stark for $142,500, obtaining a loan of $110,000, in November 1971. L.P. Stark was a local surveyor and conveyed the approximate 550 acre tract to Mountain States Development Company, surveying the 550 acre property on November 2, 1971 per Sevier County deed records. Subsequent parcels such as the 185 acre tract from the Emory Family to Mountain States Development Company in February 1972 were later added to the initial Shagbark development.
Mountain States Development Company didn’t stop with Shagbark. In June 1973 it purchased, from Jack and Juanita Davis, land for $632,000 which is now known as the Saddle Ridge Community. A wonderful summary and history of Saddle Ridge can be found on their property owners association page.
C.C. “Buddy” Pack then began marketing Shagbark lots for sale primarily to people in Coral Gables, Florida and Miami-Dade County, Florida. Part of his marketing tactics included offering free charter flights, lodging, meals, and other perks. Leading many influential people from the Coral Gables, FL community to purchase properties including multiple mayors, the city attorney, city manager, and city clerk. In total over 230 South Floridians had originally purchased within Shagbark.
According to Nancy Cain, a long time resident of Saddle Ridge, Mr. Pack hired women to greet and help market the properties to potential buyers in Shagbark and Saddle Ridge. In the Saddle Ridge Property Owners Association history article it states:
Pack seemed to know the secrets of salesmanship. His offices usually featured a collection of beautiful girls who served as guides through his developments. They were required to wear “hot pants” and knee-high white boots. A very successful businesswoman who was employed in one of his offices remembers that one time she did not wear the “uniform” and Pack sent her home to change. Today, she is amazed she didn’t object to his dress code.
The developer was C.C. Pack, a charming Tennessean, according to the buyers, and the 1,000-acre development was called Shagbark, after a hickory tree in these hills. Mr. Pack, known as Buddy, first came to the attention of the city of Coral Gables when he bid lowest to build a municipal parking garage, in the mid-1960’s, and went on to ”make a good job of it,” according to the then City Manager, L.W. Robinson Jr., now a resident of Shagbark. In 1972, Mr. Pack and associates began offering free weekend trips to his East Tennessee development to his contacts at City Hall, and elsewhere in south Florida. ”We were treated royally,” Mr. Robinson recalls. ”Drinks. Steaks. Everything. We bought a lot. My daughter bought a lot.”
Survey Issues in Shagbark and Other Lawsuits
In 1975 the surveyor of Shagbark, James F. Hatcher Jr, signed an affidavit stating:
“All Shagbark section maps recorded in the Register’s Office fo Sevier County, Tennessee, are tied together and that the roads shown on said section maps are all connected and form a continuous network of roads as generally depicted on the attached not scale sketch of Shagbark Subdivision”
This would come into play later in 1978 as Citizens Real Estate & Loan Company won a lawsuit against Mountain States Development Company regarding lot line boundaries and encroachments. The plaintiff, Citizens, in the case was represented by Gary R. Wade who would go on to become a justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court. The case regarding boundary disputes was won by the Plaintiff and ordered Mountain States Development Company to pay over $92,700 related in damages and land taken by encroachment. Shagbark owners began to deal with some of the issues facing the development in 1978 as that also marked the beginning of the Shagbark Property Owners Association and their annual meetings.
Surveying issues, lot line disputes, and even the same lot being sold multiple times occurred in the early stages of Shagbark. To this day in Shagbark there are difficulties and in some instances unresolved issues relating to surveys according to some local surveyors I am acquainted with. If you are purchasing a property in Shagbark it is vital to get a survey completed on the property to establish the lot line boundaries and ensure there aren’t encroachments.
Beginning of Road Issues in Shagbark
The roads in Shagbark, thanks to its dedicated owners and property owners association, have improved tremendously over time. Although not all roads are currently paved they are a vast improvement over the late 1970’s and through the end of the century. Efforts have slowly been made to pave and improve the roads and infrastructure. Recent strides have resulted in the paving of many more miles of roads. The current situation, albeit far from perfect, is in stark contrast to the picture painted by owners in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
The roads in Shagbark started to rear their ugly head in 1977. There were several reports from the time where owners had become distraught and angry at the developer. L.W Robinson Jr., a resident of Shagbark who had been the City Manager of Coral Gables, stated in a letter to Mr. Pack in 1977:
There is practically no evidence of maintenance of the existing roads. The appearance coming into Shagbark is a disgrace. The overgrowth and lack of mowing makes me ashamed to bring friends into the place.
Mr. Robinson certainly wasn’t the only property owner to voice their frustration with the roads in Shagbark. The NYT article from 1981 stated:
The association’s president, Neil Cubberley, an insurance agent from Clearwater, Fla., got an engineers’ report saying that there were 20.3 platted miles of road in Shagbark, that only eight could be driven by conventional automobile, and that four miles ”are inaccessible by anything but a D-16 Caterpillar.’
At this point owners were beyond frustrated with Mr. Pack and his lack of development maintenance. The covenants and restrictions were written in such a manner that the roads, common area, and amenities remained in the control of the developer and were not transferred over to a property owners association. It is common once a certain percentage of lots are sold for a developer to turn over the roads, infrastructure, common area, and other portions of the development to a property owners association for the community. The original Shagbark restrictions did not do so.
Buddy Pack left East Tennessee in 1981 for Naples, Florida. Further frustrating owners of both Shagbark and Saddle Ridge who were left on their own. According to reports at the time Pack faced bankruptcy and other financial difficulties.
An article in the Knoxville News Sentinel written by Kaye Franklin Veal in July 1985 states:
Pack is hobnobbing with the upper crust in Naples. He has established himself as a business associate of national politicians (notably George McGovern, candidate for the presidency in 1972), and enjoys lunch, dinner and golf with the city’s wealthy and influential.
This only served to infuriate Shagbark owners even more. Especially at a time when Pack was facing $4.7 million in claims against him in bankruptcy court. Veal’s article continued by stating that Pack claimed he was a developer in Miami including founder of La Gorce Country Club (and others), and was getting by with the help of loans from George McGovern since 1984.
Bankruptcy, foreclosure, and quit claim deed of roads
Following C.C. Pack’s bankruptcy and the foreclosure of Shagbark things gradually took a turn for the better. The developer, Mountain States Development Corporation had properties transferred to other Pack related entities such as “Pack Associates, Inc.” and “Shagbark Holding, Inc.” in the early and mid 1980’s. In June 1984 “Mountain States Development Corporation” and “Pack Associates, Inc.” transferred all remaining properties via quit claim deed over to Shagbark Holding, Inc.
Following the lawsuits, court cases, and bankruptcy, a large portion of Shagbark was subsequently owned by Louisiana banks such as Pelican Homestead and Savings Association. Pelican gained ownership after Firstbanc Federal (and Sunbelt Federal) got closed by the FDIC. Finally, after years of lawsuits and turmoil, the roads, common area, and other properties were turned over to the Shagbark Property Owners Association in the summer of 1991.
The Early 1990’s and Beyond
Once the road and common area transfer occurred there was a resurgence in Shagbark and things began to substantially improve. The property owners association had more control since the roads, common area, and other property was finally under its oversight and control. Projects were slowly, but surely underway to improve the community.
Shagbark Property Owners Association, being one of the largest in Sevier County, files numerous liens for delinquent association fees that property owners failed to pay. Shagbark is among the leaders in Sevier County for having properties go to Clerk and Master Sale at the Sevier County courthouse for delinquent association fees or property taxes. Each year it seems there are different properties being essentially foreclosed upon due to not pay taxes or association fees.
In more recent years there has been votes within the POA and discussions among property owners whether to pave all roads within Shagbark. Some people were against the idea of a special assessment to achieve the goal. Others wanted to do it in stages and from the budget of the regular association fees. While some did not want the roads to be paved at all. Especially some of those who were already serviced by paved roads. They and think it was a worthwhile cost to pave an entire long section of road to serve one home.
Over the course of time there has been more and more roads paved and culverts replaced in Shagbark. Especially around the 2013 to 2019 time frame with special assessment for paving roads and improving culverts. With a plan for even more in the future.
During the 2015 Shagbark Property Owners Association Meeting there was a $300 special assessment per property owner that was proposed for Section 4 of the road improvement plan.Shagbark 2016 Road Paving Proposal
The 2017 Shagbark annual owners meeting also produced a good result for those in favor of paving more roads. The special assessment for roads passed by an overwhelming margin of 109 in the affirmative to 4 no votes. Also included during the 2017 annual meeting was a vote regarding changes to the restrictions. According to the Shagbark Property Owners Association annual meeting letter:
The proposed revisions to Shagbark’s Covenants and Restrictions were approved by a vote of 98 for and 11 against. Changes to the covenants require the affirmative vote of 75% of the voting owners and these changes received 89% in the affirmative.
In the 2017 meeting other future developments and improvements were discussed such as pool renovation, changing the entrance gate so there would be an automated resident access lane, add a picnic area, playground, dog park, and fitness trail near the intersection of Klaver and North Clear Fork.
Other recent happenings in the development include a guest fee charged to overnight cabin rental owners. The cabin owner (or management company) is responsible for the fee in order to facilitate entry at the Shagbark gate area. Guest registration data for the vehicle and guest is also now required.
Shagbark property owners association dues are payable online and via credit cards. In 2018 a large wind storm blew over the sign for Shagbark and Waldens Ridge near the corner of Waldens Creek Road and N. Clear Fork. In March 2019 the new sign was installed and strongly resembles the proposed sign by Shagbark with the insurance covering a large portion of the sign.
During the Shagbark 2018 Annual Meeting, which was the 40th Annual meeting, owners voted in favor of the $400 special assessment for roads at a tally of 102 to 2. It was also announced during the meeting that Shagbark received an $11,000 grant for being a Firewise Community. Including two pieces of equipment to help mitigate wildfires.
February 2019 Flood
Flooding certainly took its toll on Sevier County in February 2019. Millions of dollars of damage was caused by flooding in Sevier County. Shagbark wasn’t able to escape the wrath of the heavy rains and flooding. The Facebook page for the Shagbark Property Owners Association has an amazing the showing the flooding that occurred. Thankfully nobody in Shagbark was harmed and they are well on their way to repairing the damage.
Land, Homes, and Cabins in Shagbark
Since being developed in 1972 Shagbark a wide variety of homes and cabins have been built. There is everything from small cottages to multi-million dollar estates on over 20 acres with a huge pond. Construction spanning back to the early 1970’s to brand new construction.
There were certain eras where cabin construction thrived more than others. Especially in the late 1990’s as Shagbark didn’t have much in the way of competition in the overnight cabin rental industry. Although competition certainly grew in the mid 2000’s, the building business was booming also. There were a very large number of cabins built in Shagbark from 2003 to 2007. With the financial crisis of 2008 building came to a screeching halt. It didn’t really return in earnest within Shagbark until 2018.
There are several lots in Shagbark that seem nearly unbuildable due to the slope of the lot. Or at the very least cost prohibitive to build (especially with septic systems being required and not having city sewer). Many of the lots in certain sections do not have homes built on them creating a nice open feeling where homes aren’t crammed on top of each other. It also allows wildlife to thrive. Bears and bobcats are fairly common sights in Shagbark. Which is in part the reason Bear proof trash receptacles are required in Shagbark.