Construction begins on Murphy Oil gas station next to Ft. Henry Dr. Walmart

Matthew Lane • Jul 30, 2012 at 3:04 AM

KINGSPORT -- After nearly two years with little to no activity taking place on the site, work began earlier this month on the construction of a Murphy Oil gas station beside the Walmart Supercenter on Fort Henry Drive.

"It is moving forward. We're excited for it being there in Kingsport and getting it open," said Rodney Alvey with Murphy Oil.

Construction began the week of July 9, and the work that has taken place since then has likely been some final site work and grading, installation of the storm drains, underground utilities and tanks for the fuel, Alvey said.

Going up next will be the walls.

"It'll be quick, once it gets started. It won't take long," Alvey said. "There's no specific date on when (the station will be completed), but we'd like to be open before Thanksgiving and catch that Christmastime deal."

The new station will be a Murphy Oil Express station -- approximately 2,800 square feet in size on a 1.3 acre site. Alvey anticipates the development creating 10 full- and part-time positions.

The original concept called for a 24-hour station with 10 pumps, but the scope has since been reduced, with the new station being open 18 hours a day with eight pumps.

"It'll be open from 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning to 11 or 12 at night," Alvey said.

Murphy Oil recently went before the Kingsport Regional Planning Commission to amend the original plan regarding the freestanding sign slated for the development, going from a 194-square-foot sign to a 157-square-foot one. Commissioners approved the request last week.

The Murphy Oil Express is just one aspect of an overarching plan for the property between the Walmart and the Cliffside neighborhood.

The latest plan -- called the Shoppes at Riverbend -- shows the Murphy Oil Express in its proposed location, along with a row of buildings stretched along the new road (Riverbend Drive) leading to the Riverbend housing development. The plan includes two buildings along Fort Henry Drive on the other side of Riverbend Drive with parking in the rear.

Originally, the plan called for the development of 14 acres of property between Walmart and the Cliffside neighborhood -- two rows of commercial shops (60,000 square feet) with a row of ponds in between, leading up to the Riverbend housing development.

However, that plan changed about two years ago with the addition of the Murphy Oil gas station and the scaling back of the development. Both developments (Shoppes at Riverbend and the Riverbend housing development) are projects of Gary Alexander and Jerry Smith.

Murphy Oil purchased the property from the two men in December 2010 for $825,000, and since that time little work has been done to the site.

Alvey said the reason for the delay was some internal issues with Murphy Oil's large store format.

"There was nothing to do with the city of Kingsport," Alvey said. "There were some internal challenges and issues of where Murphy wanted to put their big stores and how they wanted to do it. They've got it worked out, and off we go."

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