KINGSPORT - Shoe Carnival, Talbots and Shane's Rib Shack are coming to Kingsport, developers and city officials said Wednesday.
During the 14th annual Small Business Development Breakfast at the Ridgefields Country Club, Assistant City Manager of Development Jeff Fleming announced that Shoe Carnival is a confirmed tenant in the Kingsport Pavilion retail center on East Stone Drive.
Matt Lukas, vice president of Merchants Holding Co., which is developing the site, said after the meeting that Shoe Carnival will have 8,000 square feet in the Kingsport Pavilion.
Other confirmed tenants of Kingsport Pavilion so far are Target, Kohl's and Old Navy, Lukas told more than 150 people at the breakfast, which was a fund-raiser for the Kingsport Office of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship,
After the breakfast meeting, Dixon Greenwood of Ball Realty and Auction said Talbots has committed to a 4,000-square-foot space in Reedy Creek Terrace, just off North Eastman Road across Reedy Creek from Golden Corral.
"We got Talbots. We got the lease signed," Greenwood said.
Talbots is an upscale women's clothing retailer.
Greenwood said he is seeking a grading permit for the development from the city, and Starbucks should have its 1,850-square-foot building completed by mid-September, with Talbots open sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Panera Bread Co. also is locating in 4,000 square feet at that site.
In addition, Greenwood said East Stone Commons will get a 2,500-square-foot Shane's Rib Shack eatery next to Marble Slab Creamery, and Accuforce is opening a 1,200-square-foot location next to LA Weight Loss and Batteries Plus.
Ball Realty sold the development but retained the marketing of it and is still working to land a restaurant for the old Ward's auto center site.
Lukas during his speech said Kingsport Pavilion started off as a smaller proposal to serve retailers left over from East Stone Commons.
"All of a sudden, it started to snowball," Lukas said.
Fleming, during the meeting, said East Stone Commons, Kingsport Pavilion and Reedy Creek Terrace combined equal the retail space proposed for the MeadowView Pointe development that never materialized.
That's in addition to the new Lowe's on West Stone Drive and the existing retail in the Fort Henry Mall, downtown and elsewhere.
Fort Henry Mall General Manager Kevin Harmon said the Kingsport retail market is underserved, citing studies that showed $1.2 billion in buying power compared to $800 million in actual sales.
Somera Capital recently purchased the mall and plans, with help from a contract with General Growth Properties Inc., the second largest mall developer in the world, to redevelop the mall with new tenants and development of outparcels.
"The Target, the Old Navy and the Kohl's that are open, we think are great," Harmon said. "If Kingsport people stay in Kingsport (to shop), everybody will prosper."
Harmon said the mall is much better off with competition across town that keeps shoppers in Kingsport instead of at competition in Johnson City, Asheville, Sevierville/Pigeon Forge and the like.
"We believe the Fort Henry Mall is going to be a great part of the redevelopment that is going on in this city," Harmon said, recalling that economic recruiters were concerned when the mall lost its theaters for a few years. "Retail is as much a part of the infrastructure as sewer and roads."
Mark Freeman, president of Mark Freeman Associates and long active in the Downtown Kingsport Association, during a historical perspective and update on downtown said redevelopment is driven by incremental improvements.
"It's the small things that are coming together to help revitalize downtown," Freeman said, giving examples of the proposed Market Street and alley revitalization, a new midtown shuttle during lunch time, and more distant changes that included allowing outdoor vending and sandwich board signs.
Dave Clark, KOSBE vice president and a former city alderman, urged small business owners to map out their growth, which he said is essential to the city and region prospering, something he said won't happen solely from big businesses.
"The only thing certain is change," Fleming said. "We have to embrace that."