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Mountain Region Family Medicine buying Quebecor property for redevelopment

Sharon Hayes • Mar 3, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Mountain Region Family Medicine plans to purchase the old Quebecor property and turn it into an anchor for redevelopment in a portion of downtown Kingsport.

The Kingsport Economic Development Board voted unanimously Tuesday to sell two-thirds of the Quebecor property to Mountain Region Family Medicine for $350,000.

John Paul Linke, administrator for the Kingsport-based family practice group, said Mountain Region plans to convert some of the existing manufacturing buildings into a multi-use professional complex complete with physician offices, medical ancillary support services, professionals spaces, and eventually residential lofts.

“I know the physicians of Mountain Region are excited about investing in the downtown area. Most of our physicians are originally from Kingsport, and they do have an interest in seeing downtown do well,” Linke said.

Founded in 1994, Mountain Region includes 18 primary care physicians, three nurse practitioners, and more than 100 employees in seven locations — five in Kingsport, one in Gate City, and one in Nickelsville. Linke said the practice has a lot of duplication of services, and it’s been looking to move into a large space to combine some of its locations. The newly renovated downtown complex will house four of Mountain Region’s offices in Kingsport. The group’s Colonial Heights office will remain open to serve patients on that side of town.

Linke said the four offices handle about 70,000 patient visits each year, which will boost traffic in the downtown district.

Andy Bonner, Mountain Region’s CPA who works with Dent K. Burt Associates, said the group wanted to make a positive difference in the downtown area. He said the newly renovated complex will complement the city’s redevelopment efforts, including its new Academic Village.

“This totally changes the effect of everything happening on that side of town,” Bonner said. “You’re really going to create a way to bring more people downtown. That’s going to help everybody downtown.”

Phase one of the project will include the renovation of 115,000 to 117,000 square feet of space for physician offices and ancillary support, such as diagnostics, radiology and imaging services. Mountain Region plans to apply for a Certificate of Need for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and Linke said he feels confident the state will approve the CON. If it doesn’t, the project will still move forward, Linke said.

“I doubt we would be shot down, but if we are, it doesn’t shoot us down,” he said.

Phase one will cost an estimated $12.7 million to $18.5 million, he said.

Phase two includes the renovation of another 72,000 square feet of space at a projected cost of $6.1 million, Linke said.

Mountain Region hopes to complete the first two phases in 14 to 18 months and be open by the fourth quarter of 2010. More than 30 percent of the space is already committed for occupancy, while the remaining area is either under study or available for tenants.

Phase three, which faces Press Street, calls for the renovation of another 100,000 square feet. It could include various multi-use spaces for professional offices and retail on the first two levels, and residential lofts on the third floor, with balconies overlooking Church Circle.

The entire project calls for the renovation of 300,000 square feet of the 1 million-square-foot property.

Eventually, the group would also like to see a multi-story parking garage constructed at the site.

“We’re going to really put a new skin on the entire building,” said architect Hiram Rash with CainRashWest Architects.

Linke said the complex will be called the Press Building, reflecting its roots in the book manufacturing industry. The property was home to the Kingsport Press for years, then became Arcata Graphics and finally Quebecor World. Quebecor closed the plant in 2006 and agreed to give the property to the city.

“We understand the history. Everyone has a story about the old Press building. We want to certainly capture some of that history,” said Linke, adding the common areas of the newly renovated buildings will feature the history of the property and include some of the books produced at the site.

Linke said the investors have formed the Press Group, LLC, as the legal entity to own the property. The Press Group will include 21 to 35 members who would have a financial stake in the venture. Linke said the Press Group is working with five financial institutions now interested in the project.

TCI Group’s Charlie Dotson and Angie Marshall are marketing the property for the Press Group.

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