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Can this legislation revive development in Kingsport?

Hank Hayes • Updated Apr 2, 2018 at 12:01 PM

KINGSPORT — Legislation that helped create The Pinnacle shopping center in Bristol, Tenn., is back and moving forward.

Kingsport leaders, according to state Sen. Jon Lundberg, asked for the so-called “Border Region Retail Tourism Development District” law to be extended another five years.

“Bristol, without question, has been the most successful,” Lundberg, R-Bristol, said of the law’s impact. “Chattanooga East Ridge second and Kingsport obviously hasn’t taken root. They asked for the extension.”

The hope, said Lundberg, is the extension will give the area around the Tri-Cities Crossing at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 26 a second chance. Meade Tractor has located just across the roadway on property owned by the family of Jill Rich.

The law allows a portion of the sales tax revenue to be used for “payment of the cost of the economic development project,” including principal and interest on debt.

Lundberg is sponsoring the extension in the Senate, while state Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, is the House sponsor.

The extension would take the law’s expiration date to the 2026-2027 fiscal year.

The law took effect in 2011 and The Pinnacle’s first anchor tenant, Bass Pro Shops, opened its doors in August 2014.

The law was written for a development “reasonably anticipated” to draw at least one million visitors a year with a capital investment of at least $20 million.

Pinnacle developer Steve Johnson said last year the shopping center has risen to become Bristol’s top employer with about 1,700 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers.

“We’re going to have gross sales from $200 million to $250 million annually. … That’s a real number,” Johnson told the Times News.

The property straddles the Tennessee-Virginia border. Johnson initially thought about future development for residential or other retail purposes. Last year, he said that thinking had changed, and revealed plans to build an amphitheater for music and other outdoor events.

Lundberg called the chances for the law’s extension very strong.

“The sales tax revenue has been in the millions. … You drive by there and you see the effect,” he stressed. “The goal is for Kingsport to have that same success, and I think Kingsport can.”

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