“We’re just being prudent, basically, we’re watching the market,” said Christensen’s president Joe Foggia. “We are now starting to get solid enquiries but we still see the market as hesitant.”
In 2006 the company broke ground for the new facility conceived in response to demand for even bigger yachts. Rather than expand its existing plant in Vancouver, Washington where it is already established as a builder of 100ft-175ft (30m-53m) yachts, Christensen chose to build its new line of 180ft-265ft (55m-81m) luxury vessels in Tennessee.
The state-of-the-art facility which is intended to complement the company’s West Coast production, stands on a 50-acre green field site on the shores of Tellico Lake, 30 miles south of Knoxville and 500 miles from the nearest saltwater. When completed, the expanded plant is expected to create over 500 jobs in an area that has recently seen hundreds of job losses in smaller boat manufacturers.
Ron Hammontree, executive director of Tellico Reservoir Development Agency who has been involved in the project from inception said, “We are very comfortable that the reasons for the delay, which of course is disappointing, are not all down to economic conditions. In fact we are quite sure that the redesigned plant will be completed by the end of this year.”
Lead investor in the project, Henry Luken was quoted as saying that he plans to resume work on the plant by the end of this year.