With a map of the Holston River area for a backdrop, Tom Parham looks over plans for the King's Port on the Holston project. Photo illustration by David Grace.
KINGSPORT - A Chattanooga-based consulting group will spend three days in the Model City this week listening to the public, local business leaders and city officials about what they envision for the King's Port on the Holston project.
The King's Port on the Holston project has been in the works for several years and calls for the creation of an arts, entertainment and heritage district along the riverfront area of Kingsport. City leaders have said they envision the district including new restaurants and condos, a riverboat, the restoration of the old hospital, and the creation of an amphitheater on Long Island.
The proposed district includes Netherland Inn Road, Fort Robinson Drive, Riverport Road and Industry Drive with linkage to Weyerhaeuser Park and downtown Kingsport.
In November the BMA agreed to pay Kennedy, Coulter, Rushing and Watson $225,000 to develop a 20-year phased master plan for the project by June 2007. The plan will include land use and zoning recommendations, vehicular and pedestrian infrastructure improvements, and other ideas such as public art and the incorporation of a civic magnet project.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday representatives from the group will be in the Model City for a series of meetings with key stakeholders in the project, said Tom Parham, who has been spearheading the project for the city.
"The purpose of this trip is to listen to our various special interest groups and determine what they'd like to see down on the riverfront," Parham said.
The consultants are scheduled to hold several hour-long meetings over the three-day period - with city staff, neighborhood representatives, arts and entertainment officials, business leaders and with organizations such as the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Kingsport Association, Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
Parham said the consultants would also be available to meet with the general public Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Kingsport Public Library. Two other public meetings have been scheduled for March 12 and May 15, both at the Kingsport Public Library.
"This is the same group that did the Chattanooga project, Nashville and Knoxville. These folks are really good at interviewing people and getting them to talk about what they want to see," Parham said.
Once this series of meetings is done, along with others later this year, Parham said the consultants would complete a site analysis of the district and develop options and alternatives.
"We're really going to key heavily on implementation. We don't want this to be a master plan that sits on the shelf," Parham said. "It's our objective that this is a very achievable plan. Our vision is one where developers and private business would basically fund.
"If we develop a successful plan then they'll be competitive businesses that want to come in and develop shops, restaurants, housing and recreation."
One measure already under way to help spur development in the King's Port on the Holston district is a Planned Village District. The measure has gained the endorsement of the Planning Commission and is expected to go before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in March.
City planners created the new zoning district to allow a variety of different structures, including housing, civic and religious buildings, green spaces, commercial and office uses. No strip malls or manufacturing would be allowed in the PVD zone.
City Planner Karen Combs crafted the new zoning district and said it is in response to new development trends and should accommodate what Parham hopes to create along the river.
"We're trying to get away from the cookie-cutter developments, and it allows for the developer to have imagination," Combs said.
The PVD would have two main features - a village edge and a village center - and it essentially merges several types of zoning into one. Combs said she would recommend the entire King's Port on the Holston district be PVD.
Even though the project is about halfway through the planning stage, some development is taking place near the district.
Developer Mitch Cox plans to build a 40-lot neighborhood called the "Villas at Netherland" off Netherland Lane near Baysmont and a second neighborhood adjacent to this one.
Parham said he is optimistic about the King's Port on the Holston project coming to fruition.
"I'm personally convinced that we have a very unique asset in Kingsport," Parham said. "We're the only city in East Tennessee with a river running through it, it's where Kingsport originated, and we really have an opportunity to redevelop that and have something very unique and attractive, and I think it would increase the quality of life for people in Kingsport and attract others to the city."