Kingsport looks to buy old armory property

Matthew Lane • Jul 1, 2013 at 8:48 AM

KINGSPORT — The Model City is currently negotiating with the State of Tennessee to purchase the old Kingsport National Guard Armory property, with a possible use being an expansion site for the Holston Business Development Center.The old Armed Forces Reserve Center — commonly known as the Kingsport National Guard Armory — has been an iconic building in Kingsport for more than 40 years. But the facility has been empty for the past two years since the soldiers with the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves relocated to their new facility a few miles up the road in Mount Carmel.Nearly two years ago the state attempted to sell the property through a sealed bid process and while there was no minimum bid, no offers came in close to the $1.3 million appraised value of the property.Kelly Smith, spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of General Services, said the state has received limited interest in the property over the past two years.“If we don’t receive reasonable offers by the deadline, we’ll keep it open as an open solicitation and that’s what we’ve done,” Smith said.Randy Harris, with the Tennessee National Guard, said the state is currently in negotiations with Kingsport to purchase the building. Since closing two years ago, the old facility has remained empty and unused.According to state records, the old armory property is 14.5 acres in size and includes 11 buildings totaling 72,750 square feet. Buildings include the main center, quonset hut, maintenance shop, an outbuilding and a transportation shop.In an e-mail to the Times-News this week, City Manager John Campbell said Kingsport has not made a formal offer on the old armory and is working with potential partners to join the city in an outright purchase of the property.“We are seeing great success and continuing interest at the HBDC incubator and the facility is at capacity. We also know we have other physical limitations within the existing incubator, in that we have regular ceiling heights, and there is some market demand for manufacturing type space for the incubator,” Campbell wrote in the e-mail. “At the moment, most of the uses we are considering do revolve around the lack of capacity at the incubator and potential job creation by expanding the incubator.”Campbell said the city is looking at other uses for the property as well and no decision has been made on the future of the property.“We have started evaluating the site, its previous uses and existing environmental conditions, as well as the types of materials used in the buildings on the site,” Campbell said. “But we have not yet determined what the future of the existing buildings will be if we do move forward with a purchase.”The HBDC is a small business incubator dedicated to providing low-cost/low-maintenance office space for new and start-up businesses. Opening in 2003, the 13,000 square foot building is located beside the Holston Army Ammunition Plant on West Stone Drive.

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