KINGSPORT — A dozen years after it was started, Meadowview continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
Anchored by its namesake — MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center — the area has seen steady development and skyrocketing property values since the center and accompanying hotel opened in 1996.
The latest announced development, a city aquatic center co-located with the YMCA, is part of a series of developments that have grown up in the area just off Interstate 26 near the Sullivan Gardens Parkway and Wilcox Drive.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen in August voted to locate a $12.6 million aquatic center in Meadowview on a 10-acre site between the driving range and Cattails golf course located off Wilcox Drive.
With site work and other costs, the project could cost $14 million to $15 million. The BMA also agreed to co-locate with the new YMCA and is working toward an agreement where the YMCA would operate the aquatic center for the city, thus saving on operational costs.
Eastman Chemical Co., has agreed to donate 12 acres of land for the facility, with an additional two- to five-acre donation possible.
On the down side, however, a proposed MeadowView Pointe upscale shopping center never materialized in the late 1990s, and the Damon’s Restaurant near MeadowView has closed twice, most recently this year.
Dave Clark, the developer of a medical and business office complex, and former alderman, said he believes that more development would occur in the Meadowview area, if the city invested in road improvements once planned for the area.
However, Assistant City Manager Jeff Fleming said he foresees road projects in that area developing incrementally as driven by private development.
Build a convention center and conferences will come
At the center of Meadowview is MeadowView.
“Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center provides a magnificent resort setting, plus state-of-the-art conference facilities, to accommodate all corporate meeting needs,” according to a Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce news release about MeadowView.
The smoke-free resort offers full-service conference resort amenities, more than 66,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space, a modern fitness center, business center, the Cattails at MeadowView championship golf course and numerous dining options including the Meadows Restaurant, the Courtyard Lounge and the Courtyard CafÃ©.
A partnership between the city of Kingsport and Eastman Chemical Co., the MeadowView Marriott is 90 miles from Knoxville and Asheville.
On Aug. 18, the chamber’s board of directors unanimously voted to support the planned city-funded building of a $14 million executive conference wing at MeadowView.
The Board of Mayor and Alderman, by year’s end, is expected to consider a proposal to use the quarter-cent sales tax increase imposed in 1992 to build MeadowView to fund the new wing.
Once complete, the 30,000-square-foot, two-story Executive Conference Center, would have what the chamber called a “country club look and feel,” encompassing a 5,000-square-foot ballroom, two U-shaped amphitheaters, two executive boardrooms and a conference room.
“The Executive Conference Center will be a powerful addition to what has already become a very successful facility,” MeadowView General Manager Andy King said in a news release at the time of the chamber vote. “ The new Executive Conference Center will give MeadowView the opportunity to sell to an entirely different segment of customers and greatly increase our competitive edge in the Southeast market.”
He said the Executive Conference Center would cater to high-end meetings, retreats and conferences, with each of the new rooms featuring the latest in state-of-the-art technology and first-class meeting amenities.
The expansion also will include a parking deck located behind The Meadows Restaurant.
The parking deck will have elevator access to The Meadows, allowing for much easier access to the restaurant.
“The meeting facilities will have the latest high-tech features in an upscale environment,” King added. “The second-floor ballroom will be the premier venue for any social event with breathtaking views of the Cattails Golf Course. The new building will also enhance the Meadows Restaurant and the parking deck will allow customers direct access for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”
The Meadows Restaurant will be expanded and include a verandah and covered terrace that will encircle the outside of the restaurant. More dining tables will be added.
A covered walkway will be built to connect the hotel to the new conference wing.
“This is a very important project for both MeadowView and Kingsport and its completion will mean a tremendous amount of additional business and revenue for our community,” Kingsport Chamber Chairman Tom Segelhorst said.
Earlier this year, MeadowView and Eastman Chemical Co., announced a $15 million expansion and renovation of the hotel portion of MeadowView.
The hotel expansion and renovation project calls for the addition of 110 new guest rooms, 10 of which will be executive king rooms, and the complete renovation of all existing 195 guest rooms, which will include all new furniture, paint, carpet and wallpaper, the latest technology enhancements and new 37-inch flat screen televisions in each room.
When the hotel project is finished in August 2009, MeadowView will feature 305 guest rooms, enabling the resort to substantially increase business by more than 33 percent and pouring an additional $7 million a year in revenue into the Kingsport economy.
This year, the MeadowView Marriott was once again recognized by guests as the number one Marriott in the world in terms of Overall Customer Satisfaction, number one in Quality of Food, number one in In-Room Dining and Room Service, number one in Guest Intent to Return to the Hotel and number one in Room Cleanliness, and Best in Class in guest satisfaction, solving problems, sprit to serve/service and food quality.
MeadowView has also won the Top Hotel Operations of Excellence Award from Steritch International, marking the third time in four years the resort has garnered the honor and making MeadowView the only Marriott property to have ever won the award more than once.
For more information about the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center, call 578-6600 or visit meadowviewresort.com.
Show me the money
In 2007, MeadowView set another record-breaking business year with revenues totaling more than $11 million. MeadowView officials anticipate that number will approach $18 million with the additional rooms.
In addition to being a source of revenue for Kingsport, MeadowView has also been the catalyst for major developments around its property that also help fill city and Sullivan County coffers.
According to developer Clark, there has been $76.5 million in private investment surrounding MeadowView — triple the public investment of $22 million. Almost 200 jobs have been created through the Meadowview area development.
The economic impact figures of Meadowview include property taxes of more than $828,000 for the city and more than $968,000 for the county.
Clark said his company alone has invested an average of $2.5 million a year, completed 16,000 square feet of office space a year and helped facilitate creation of 18 medical, professional and support jobs each year.
The private investment projects in the Meadowview area include the headquarters of Eastman Credit Union, Cardiovascular Associates, a Holston Medical Group medical facility, the Katherine Square business and medical complex, the Sheridan Square business and medical complex, and other restaurants and businesses.
Property values in the Meadowview area have soared from $2.7 million three years before MeadowView opened to more than $88 million this year.
From 1998 to 2008, property value in the Meadowview area skyrocketed 392 percent from $22.6 million to $88.2 million.
In addition, the chamber and city estimate MeadowView makes an annual economic impact of more than $23 million on Kingsport.
Thanks to city leaders
Clark, whose Clark and Company developed the Sheridan Square medical and business office complex, in a recent report to the chamber called “Economic Growth & Development in the MeadowView Area,” wrote that MeadowView “exemplifies the role municipal government can play to act as a catalyst for economic development by creating the infrastructure and amenities needed to draw market-driven activity.”
“If we do not invest in our future, we cannot expect anyone else to do so,” he wrote.
Specifically, during a Thursday interview at the Madagascar Coffee Co. he built and owns in the Sheridan Square area, he credited former Mayor Jeanette Blazier and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for having an economic summit in 1999, out of which grew initiatives such as the academic village downtown, new city sports complexes and, indirectly, MeadowView development.
Clark splits Meadowview into two parts.
One is Lower Meadowview straddling Meadowview Parkway to Wilcox Drive with professional office development.
Clark wrote that the Asheville-based HOPE Women’s Cancer Center has located in his development, while he said Gilbert Asset Management moved some of its operations from Johnson City to serve Kingsport-area clients.
In addition, Penn Virginia Corp.’s regional headquarters provides 75 jobs, and all the businesses help provide finance and accounting jobs.
Katharine Square’s 21,000 square feet, a $2.5 million investment, is complete and fully leased, while Phase I of Sheridan Square, three buildings of 44,000 square feet costing $7 million, is complete and sold. Phase II, 100,000 square feet among four buildings costing $17.3 million is sold or leased, while construction on Phase III, a single 42,000-square-foot building costing $9 million, started in August.
The three-story building is to be called Eight Sheridan Square.
The $76.5 million in private investment and the 200 jobs created include The Heart Center, ECU, HMG, the MeadowView center, Katharine Square and Sheridan Square. When including public sector spending, the amount invested grows to $98.5 million.
The second area is what Clark calls Upper Meadowview along John B. Dennis Bypass from Wilcox Drive and oriented toward commercial retail businesses.
However, he wrote that section “has not progressed because the city has not actively pursued the planned road network.”
Plans call for an interstate exit for that area and a new welcome center, as well as the extension/relocation of Wilcox Drive across John B. Dennis at La Carretta and the Social Security office over to I-26, in effect surrounding that area proposed for what was to be MeadowView Pointe with roads.
Clark said Upper Meadowview is poised for retail, multi-family and single-family residential growth.
“What hasn’t happened there is the interchange that was planned,” Clark said of the area, much of which is part of the Childress family farm. “Upper Meadowview hasn’t developed because the infrastructure isn’t in.”
However, Assistant City Manager for Development Fleming Thursday said the city has agreed to delay the section of the new road leading to the I-26.
He said the city is interested in calculated risks but wants to be sure some planned development comes to fruition. Plans call for the first phase of the new road to go 2,220 feet into the Childress property, then for a second phase all the way to what will be the interstate exit at the welcome center.
Fleming said that most of the development that was to have gone at MeadowView Pointe shifted to East Stone Commons and the Kingsport Pavilion. Fleming said he expects incremental development on the Childress property, not a development the size of MeadowView Pointe’s planned 1 million square feet.
Clark said that other forces are at work that can hinder development around Meadowview and elsewhere: higher construction costs driven by dramatic increases in steel, cooper and concrete prices.
Bright outlook ahead
Still, Clark said Meadowview and Kingsport should continue developing and growing.
He said the way Kingsport has grown is thanks in part to MeadowView’s success. He likened the city to hub of a wheel, drawing people from the spokes in parts of Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Kentucky to shop, eat and get medical care.
In addition, he said the city has developed in different areas — such as downtown, East Stone Commons, Kingsport Pavilion and Meadowview for retail, and Cook’s Valley, downtown and Rock Springs for single-family housing — rather than one large development section.
For the most part, he said the city benefits from not following the common model of trying to “vacate the center and head down the interstate.”