KINGSPORT - It was an automobile dealership for years, then sat vacant for many months before the demolition crews came.
Today, the property at 416 W. Stone Drive appears desolate, but the new owner says it won't look that way for long.
Ball Realty of Tazewell, Tenn., has acquired the Stone Drive property at Teasel Drive. Owner Roger Ball said he hopes to establish a restaurant at the site along with a strip shopping center.
"We just think it's a prime piece of real estate with the Wellmont Health System complex down the road," Ball said.
Ball and Dixon Greenwood, development director for Ball Realty, are working with three restaurants considering locating at the property. They've received preliminary approval from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to install a traffic light at Teasel Drive if they're successful at attracting and signing a restaurant for the site.
Teasel Drive borders the property and would provide easy ingress and egress to and from Stone Drive.
Greenwood said construction crews started tearing down the old automobile dealership on the property but stopped about halfway through demolition.
Ball said the demolition has been slowed for a couple of reasons. First, he plans to salvage much of the steel from the property and is awaiting his contractor to handle that part of the project.
In addition, Ball's crew that conducts demolition had some other projects to take care of before completing the Stone Drive work.
"I know it probably doesn't look very good, but we'll get it cleaned off eventually," Greenwood said.
If a restaurant agrees to locate at the site, Ball Realty will also construct a strip shopping center to complete the development, Greenwood said.
If the restaurant plans are not realized, Greenwood said his company will probably construct an office building at the property.
But Greenwood said he's hoping a restaurant will see the merits of the site. It's located just up the road from the Wellmont Health System complex in the old Kings Giant Plaza. That complex includes Wellmont's outpatient services as well as a three-story physicians building. Another health care facility is also being constructed at the site.
"That's a big selling point," Greenwood said of the health care complex. "There is a tremendous amount of daytime population there, and there's just no restaurant nearby to serve it."
He said the old auto dealership property would make an ideal location for a restaurant.
"If I were a franchisee, that's where I'd be going," Greenwood said.
Ball also developed the East Stone Commons shopping center at the intersection of Eastman Road and Stone Drive. Ball said the contacts he made through the development of East Stone Commons have helped him line up other restaurants and retail establishments for Kingsport.
He's also working to establish Reedy Creek Terrace, a $6 million restaurant and retail development on the old bakery property between Reedy Creek and Palace Vending on Eastman Road. Site work is expected to start on that project in a week or two, Greenwood said.