KINGSPORT - A Maryland-based consulting group plans to take an in-depth look at Lynn Garden Drive and Wilcox Drive and recommend whether or not these two main corridors should be deemed redevelopment districts.
Basile Baumann Prost & Associates has been hired to conduct an economic redevelopment analysis of Kingsport, to essentially update an economic study performed in 2001 by Economic Research Associates of Washington, D.C.
That study found Kingsport had an annual retail sales potential of $1.5 billion but that only $650 million was being spent within the city limits - the remainder was going elsewhere.
The Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority made the request for the updated analysis. KHRA Deputy Director CeeGee McCord said the authority would like to see an updated picture of the Model City's retail health and any new locations within the city that appear prime for redevelopment.
Kingsport has five redevelopment districts within its boundaries - East Stone Commons, Stonegate shopping center, Borden Mill property, Greenacres/Crown Point/Southland shopping centers, and the downtown area. An advantage of being in a district is property owners who wish to redevelop their property can apply to the KHRA for tax increment financing (TIF) funds to use on the project.
The two sites being looked at for redevelopment district designation are the Lynn Garden Drive corridor (from Parkway Plaza to Gravely Road) and Wilcox Drive (from Meadowview to Jared Drive). The KHRA also wants the consultants to look at including the old Quebecor property into the downtown redevelopment district.
Brian Dowling and Ralph Basile made their first visit to the Model City last week, meeting and receiving feedback from city and chamber officials and people in the business community. On Tuesday, the group met with two elected officials, the city's attorney and a KHRA official.
The scope of work includes a thorough study of suggested study areas and current redevelopment districts and preparing an analysis that does the following:
•Ties together all relevant recent studies and provides a redevelopment support analysis.
•Provides strategic direction recommendations for redevelopment.
•Provides an updated dollar estimate of Kingsport's retail sales leakage.
"We're not going to reinvent the wheel," Basile said.
Some of the ideas that came out of last week's meeting include City Attorney Mike Billingsley suggesting the Lynn Garden corridor be a zone for small businesses and shops with reasonable rent and for the creation of a neighborhood park.
They don't really have a good park," he said.
Basile said it is a little unusual to see so many redevelopment districts in a city Kingsport's size.
"Most cities have fewer, larger districts rather than more, smaller ones," he said. "But it's not a problem."
Basile also said the group is not advocating large land clearance just to make the area look better.
The group is expected to complete its work by mid-June.