The Kingsport Economic Development Board (KEDB) has agreed to sell up to two acres of the old Kingsport Foundry site on Main Street to the city’s 911 board of directors to develop a new communications center for call taking and dispatching emergency services.
“We’re probably talking about a million, or a million and a half dollars, not a large structure,” Joe May, the 911 board’s attorney, said of the anticipated investment.
Kingsport City Manager John Campbell, a KEDB ex-officio member, brought the property to the 911 board’s attention, and May noted the board is now trying to come up with a facility design in the 8,000-square-foot range.
“It would be compatible with other development, and would not be a facility that would detract in appearance from the rest of the site or other commercial purposes,” May told KEDB members at a meeting last Tuesday. “Exterior features of the structure will be as plain as possible. ... It would be close to a school building or fire station appearance.”
“We want it to look as good as the Foundry property,” joked Mayor Dennis Phillips, another KEDB ex-officio member.
KEDB members the last two months have pointed out the property — viewed as a gateway to the downtown area — remains an eyesore featuring steel debris and high grass.
“Some of that stuff just needs to go to the landfill,” Phillips said of the site’s content.
KEDB directed concrete slabs on the property to be removed for minimal cost with an understanding the city would get the property looking better.
According to the city’s website, 911 is currently housed at the Kingsport Police Department on Shelby Street and employs about a dozen dispatchers.
During the year 2011, Central Dispatch handled 98,285 requests for service for citizens, a nearly 17 percent decrease from 2010, according to the city.
The site for the building, KEDB members were told, has obstacle-free views to send communications to transmitting towers on Bays Mountain.
KEDB plans to sell the property “as is” for about $152,000 per acre. Another 3.5 acres of the site would still be available for commercial development, said Campbell.