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Zaxby's coming to Kingsport Pavilion; two other chains eye city

Sharon Hayes • Feb 24, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Restaurant chain Zaxby’s is coming to Kingsport.

On Tuesday, officials for the restaurant picked up a building permit for a new $587,000 location at the Kingsport Pavilion shopping complex on East Stone Drive.

The restaurant will be constructed next to Verizon.

Zaxby’s is headquartered in Athens, Ga., and operates 465 restaurants in 11 states. The first location opened in Statesboro, Ga., in 1990. By 2007, Zaxby’s operated 400 locations.

Locally, the restaurant operates locations in Johnson City, Greeneville, Elizabethton and Morristown.

Company officials contacted Tuesday were unsure when construction will start at the Kingsport location and when the restaurant is expected to open.

City leaders say at least two other national chains continue to examine the Kingsport market as a potential location for expansion.

“We know we cannot expect the sort of robust new investment Kingsport saw in 2007 and 2008, but at the same time we feel very fortunate the national economic downturn has not had the same sort of impact here in our region,” City Manager John Campbell said Tuesday. “Assuming the state makes fair, substantial stimulus investments in the region, we could well pull through this downturn better than the rest of the country.”

Kingsport has so far fared better than other areas of the nation. Last year marked a record year for new investment and double-digit increases in sales tax collections for the city.

Since 2006, Kingsport has posted $370 million in new construction, including retail and commercial office buildings. The city has posted record investment for two consecutive years — $164.5 million in 2007 and $180.9 million in 2008.

New retail centers make up a lot of that investment.

Kingsport Pavilion — the city’s newest retail destination with stores such as Target, Kohl’s, Old Navy and Dick’s Sporting Goods — now generates $96 million in retail sales.

East Stone Commons — a shopping center featuring stores such as Hobby Lobby, Ross, T.J. Maxx, Pier One and PetSmart — generates $50 million a year in sales.

New shops and restaurants are also being constructed at the Reedy Creek Terrace along Eastman Road.

And the Kingsport Town Center, formerly the Fort Henry Mall, is preparing to undergo a $35 million facelift beginning this year.

Kingsport’s new shopping opportunities have helped boost the city’s sales tax collections. As of late December, those collections were up 11 percent year to date.

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