FedEx deal may relieve KEDB of $1.6 million debt

Rick Wagner • Oct 2, 2007 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — It appears the Kingsport Economic Development Board is nearly off the hook for a potential $1.6 million debt, thanks to a pending FedEx real estate package.

The KEDB probably won’t have to repay the money to Tennessee for access road construction at Gateway Commerce Park, an economic development official said Tuesday.

NETWORKS – Sullivan Partnership, a joint economic development effort of Sullivan County, Kingsport, Bristol, Tenn., and Bluff City, in July purchased the park for $2.7 million. However, the obligation for the potential road repayment remains with the KEDB.

The park is located near the interchange of Interstates 81 and 26, an area dubbed The Crossroads.

“We have gotten preliminary word it (the obligation) is going to be released, but we haven’t gotten the final word,” KEDB Chairman Larry Estepp said after Tuesday’s monthly KEDB meeting at the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce.

Estepp, the immediate past chairman of NETWORKS, said the pending FedEx distribution center at the park would satisfy the state, which built the access road in the park three years ago with the understanding it would require a $1.6 million repayment unless $3.3 million in annual payroll and $5.5 million in capital investment occurred at the park in three years.

The completion date was Nov. 10, 2004, but KEDB officials have hoped the state would forgive the debt as long as a qualifying project was in the pipeline.

FedEx hasn’t officially closed on the property purchase but has started grading on the property and has received planning and zoning approval.

Plans are for a $6 million, 90,000-square-foot distribution center on an almost 13-acre parcel to open by June 1, 2008. It is to employ about 75, company officials have said.

During the meeting, the board voted to appropriate $5,500 to the Kingsport Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (KOSBE).

The money is to go toward phase two of the KOSBE Web site development, start-up of the self-service station at the KOSBE offices on Main Street, and for supplies at the Women’s Expo.

Also, the board approved the reimbursement of $5,000 for a facade grant already approved for Beatty-Lane Developments LLC. The property, 242 E. Main St., is home to 12 Bones Smokehouse. KEDB funds the facade program administered by the KOSBE.

In addition, Doris Ladd of the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority said plans and options are being formulated for the old Quebecor World property, the site of the old Kingsport Press. The company is giving the land and buildings to the city.

The next KEDB meeting is set for 10 a.m. Nov. 6 in the chamber building.

For more information on the KOSBE facade grant and other KOSBE programs call 392-8811 or go to www.kosbe.org.

For more information on the park and other NETWORKS properties call 279-7681 or go to www.networkstn.com.

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