Sullivan Commission approves TIF for The Blake at Riverbend development

J. H. Osborne • Jan 18, 2017 at 8:30 PM

BLOUNTVILLE —The Sullivan County Commission voted Monday to approve tax increment financing (TIF) for a project known as The Blake at Riverbend.

The move authorizes the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority (KHRA) to implement an amended, expanded redevelopment plan for the already established Riverbend Redevelopment District in order to include the parcel of land on which The Blake — an assisted living facility — is proposed to be constructed, as well as clearing the way for the use of TIF.

The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman already agreed to the plan, and KHRA held a public meeting on the subject in early December.

The facility is being developed by The Blake at Kingsport LLC at an estimated cost of nearly $21.35 million, according to the resolution, and will include construction of one building with two courtyards consisting of a total of 106,500 square feet. The Blake will include 119 units of assisted living apartments and 170 beds, according to information presented to the Sullivan County Commission during a work session last week.

City staff estimate the total direct and indirect economic impact of The Blake’s construction, operations and spending by its eventual residents at $24.8 million, including support for 157 jobs.

According to the resolution approved by the commission, the project will be funded through a $17.08 million loan taken by the developer, developer investment of $3.27 million, and TIF debt to be issued by KHRA in an amount not to exceed $1 million.

That $1 million in debt is what will be repaid over a 10-year period through a portion of property taxes paid by The Blake’s owner to the city of Kingsport and Sullivan County. The $1 million in TIF will be used to help the developer offset costs of creating infrastructure to support the development — namely the access road, which also will open up four additional parcels for potential commercial development.

That $1 million is a fraction of the new property taxes that building The Blake will generate. Based on the vacant, undeveloped property’s current assessment (and current tax rates), city and county property tax collections combined would total only $157,981 over the next 20 years, according to information presented to county commissioners Jan. 12 by city staff. But once the $21.5 million Blake is built and added to the tax rolls, its owners will pay an estimated $4.8 million in property taxes over that 20-year period.

During public comment, one speaker, who said he is affiliated with a senior living facility elsewhere in the Tri-Cities, said he initially intended to voice opposition to the TIF proposal for The Blake. But after speaking with the developers and understanding the TIF money would be going for infrastructure, he had changed his position to neutral. He encouraged county and city officials, however, to always consider whether such requests could create an unfair advantage to a newcomer over existing facilities.

Another speaker spoke against the project receiving TIF.

Commissioners Baxter Hood and Pat Shull voted against the TIF.

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