In the fall of 2011, the city of Kingsport began a partnership with Michael Reedy, the owner of Reedy Creek Cellars of Sullivan County, to establish a winery on the MeadowView grounds. Visitors would be able to sample and purchase various wines and see the wine-making process firsthand.
In addition to the winery, plans called for the creation of a wine-themed meeting room in the executive conference wing, dubbed the Fieldstone Cellar, a room suited for banquet-style events, conferences, wedding receptions and award ceremonies.
Ultimately, Reedy hoped to create a wine trail from his vineyards in Bristol to MeadowView; city leaders hailed the project as being good for tourism and a nice addition to the other amenities in the area, such as the golf course and aquatic center.
To make the winery a reality, a number of steps had to take place first: a temporary shed had to be built to house the equipment from the old golf maintenance shed; the old shed (where the winery would be located) had to be renovated and equipment moved in; and finally a new, permanent golf maintenance shed had to be built.
In other words, there were a lot of moving pieces.
Over the past 20 months the project has suffered from a number of delays and distractions — some bad weather, a competing project (aquatic center) and the time it took for the city to secure property for the permanent shed. Eastman eventually leased some adjacent property to the city for $1.
The project also had a fairly unrealistic renovation schedule. The original time estimate on the work was three months with a deadline of Jan. 31, 2012. The winery has had a “soft opening” and has been selling wine for months, but final renovations have only recently wrapped up while a grand opening is scheduled for later this year.
The Kingsport Economic Development Board recently approved a $75,000 settlement and two years of free rent to Reedy for lost sales due to the delays.
According to the city’s finance department, the temporary golf shed cost $50,500, which included material, assembly and disassembly. The original estimate was $25,000. The building is now being used by the city’s streets and sanitation department.
The new permanent golf shed (located on Eastman’s land), was originally estimated to cost $220,000. The actual cost was $582,302. The price tag to renovate the old golf shed (where the winery is located) came in at $246,548. The Fieldstone Cellar renovations cost $168,350.
All together, the renovations and new construction come to just over $1 million.
If you include the $75,000 settlement and three years of lost rent to the city (at roughly $28,000 to $29,000 a year), the total amount of the project comes in at $1.2 million.
The money for the project came from a variety of sources: $175,000 from the city’s Visitor Enhancement Fund (money used for tourism-related projects); $93,400 from the MeadowView Conference Center Fund; and $354,312 from the Cattails Project Fund.
In addition, the Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau provided $100,000 for the new golf shed and $150,000 for the renovations to the old golf shed (winery). The KEDB will eventually pay this money back to the KCVB once the rent kicks in — a term of the original agreement.
Even with the hefty price tag, city officials say the winery will be good for tourism and provide a nice amenity to the conference center.
City Manager John Campbell said the winery is a unique and useful addition, one that broadens the appeal of the conference center.
“The (winery) is definitely returning to the community, highlighting a local agribusiness, attracting more conferences, and moving more rooms,” Campbell said. “Because of this investment, in both the conference space and the winery, MeadowView is a much stronger wedding venue, and a much stronger social venue overall for the community to enjoy and use.”
“I think the winery will be a fantastic asset to the city. We’ve had incredible interest from customers to get over there and Mr. Reedy has attended several events with us to promote both the winery and MeadowView,” said Andy King, executive director of MeadowView. “Long story short, rocky start with a lot of conflict, but at the end of the day it will be successful and something we can all be proud of having in Kingsport.”
In an email to the Times-News, Reedy said he was very appreciative of his relationship with the city and the contributions of its agents.
“Ours is a long-term relationship that will greatly benefit our area and I value their foresight and support,” Reedy said.
The winery is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A grand opening is scheduled for this fall and at that time, the winery is expected to be open seven days a week.