Earlier this year, the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to fund the construction of a $12 million, 50,000-square-foot higher education center. The idea of an academic village evolved from this plan once Northeast State Technical Community College offered to bring its medical courses to downtown as well.
In response, the BMA voted to fund a $4.8 million, 42,000-square-foot allied health building, the groundbreaking of which was held last month.
The allied health building is slated to be open in the fall of 2008; the higher education center is slated to open by the fall of 2009.
Throughout this whole process, city leaders have discussed additional properties in downtown Kingsport that could potentially be used in connection to the academic village — initially as parking and later on as possible building expansion sites.
Kingsport has already purchased two buildings this year in connection with the project — the old Tire Center building for $165,000 (the site of the higher education center) and the Model City Motors building for $156,000 (which could be used as an expansion or extension of the Regional Center for Applied Technology).
Other properties discussed included Ward’s Feed Store, Carriage House, Jim’s Lawn Center, A-Hood Bonding, Paul Adams and Associates Building, and the Fire Fighters Association building.
On Tuesday, the BMA voted to purchase the Jim’s Lawn Center building for $265,000 and the Paul Adams building for $359,000. The two buildings appraised for $224,000 and $310,000, respectively.
City officials say the reason Kingsport is buying the properties for more than the appraised value is for relocation and moving expenses and because both properties are existing businesses. The additional amount also took into consideration a prepayment penalty of approximately $14,000 on the Paul Adams building.
“It’s easier to buy vacant property rather than someone with an entrenched business,” City Attorney Mike Billingsley said during a Monday BMA work session.
Deputy City Manager Jeff Fleming said the purchase of these two properties are time sensitive — Jim’s has found another location downtown to move to, and Paul Adams needs to move before tax season begins.
When asked by Alderman Pat Shull how these properties become part of the academic village, City Manager John Campbell said once all properties are acquired, the city would consolidate them and then clear them for development.
Campbell said preliminary plan calls for Jim’s Lawn Care property to be a driveway for the neighboring day care facility and parking. In the short term, the Paul Adams building would be parking, and in the long term, the site for a potential third building in the academic village.
Kingsport earmarked $2 million for property acquisition associated with the higher education center and allied health facility. Appraisals for the additional six properties came in around $1.4 million.
In other business Tuesday night the BMA:
• Voted to rezone approximately 237 acres along Netherland Inn Road to planned village district. The PVD is a new zoning designation created earlier this year, which allows for mixed use development within a district, such as residential, commercial and office space.
• Voted on final reading to amend the zoning ordinance to allow electronic message boards in B-3 and B-2 districts. City planners are expected to return to the BMA in the coming months with an ordinance to govern animated signs.
• Approved a memorandum of understanding with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingsport to where the city would pay the club $100,000 a year over the next four years and in exchange city departments would be allowed to use the facility, such as for meetings, special events and AAU tournaments.
• Voted to transfer $131,823 from the Greenbelt fund to the Netherland Inn Bank Barn project to cover the cost of the project. The BMA also voted to award the $560,000 bid for the project to Inland Construction. The project calls for the bank barn to be built back to its original 1800s condition and be used as a museum.