Michigan firm to help Kingsport develop wayfinding, signage program

Matthew Lane • Nov 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The city of Kingsport has gone all the way to Michigan to seek help in coming up with ways for visitors to find their way to the sites and destinations of the Model City.

Kingsport has contracted with Michigan-based Corbin Design to develop a comprehensive wayfinding and signage program to help direct motorists and pedestrians to various city destinations.

The contract is for $81,410 and comes from the city’s visitor enhancement fund. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen established the fund last year to pay for a variety of tourism-related projects, with the money coming from a 2 percent increase to the city’s hotel/motel tax.

The scope of Corbin Design’s work is to analyze the city’s current wayfinding elements and notable destinations and craft a plan on what types of signs Kingsport should use and where they should be located.

“They were in town and they visited as first-time visitors to Kingsport. They spent some time pulling information off the Internet and identifying the types of attractions based on their perception of how we present ourselves,” Deputy City Manager Jeff Fleming said. “They’ll sit down with us and talk about the real attractions, the confusion in trying to find some of these attractions, and then go back and develop a comprehensive plan determining the best way to get people from hotels to attractions, venues and facilities.”

The signs are more than simple signs with the names of destinations. The signs have bold colors, large letters, and may have a detailed map or a city logo.

“There’s the size and complexity of the signs, different sizes and text for different environments. It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds on the surface,” Fleming said. “Rather than just a traditional traffic sign, this is the way we can best present ourselves to people who are visiting our community and give them a first-class first impression.”

Some of the destinations being considered for the signs include Bays Mountain, Allandale, the Civic Auditorium, Exchange Place, Netherland Inn and various city parks.

“Places where visitors, for sporting events and tourism, would come,” Fleming said.

Fleming said Corbin Design is in the middle of the analysis phase, with the city planning on having everything ready for implementation next spring.

The cost of the signs is not known at this time, Fleming said, and would be determined by what the consultants recommend. The $81,000 does not include the cost of the signs.

“It will be a multi-year, multi-phased approach. We clearly don’t have the resources to do all the signs immediately,” Fleming said. “We’ll have a template and cost estimate, and then we’ll be able to program (the signs in).”

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