The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Tuesday to approve the buying price of $130,000 for the old Chuck’s Drive-In property, located at 840 Industry Drive. Times-News file photo.
KINGSPORT - The city of Kingsport plans to purchase the old Chuck's Drive-In property for future wastewater treatment facility needs, city officials said last week. Whatever is built on the property, city officials say it would go hand in hand with the Kingsport Landing project.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Tuesday to approve the buying price of $130,000 for the property located at 840 Industry Drive. Carolyn Lindsey, a real estate agent with Town & County Realty, said the owner of the property, Betty Henry, wanted to sell because she is ready to pursue something else in her life.
Chuck's Drive-In opened in the mid-1950s and is named for the son of the original owners - the late Charles and Blanche Myers. Henry's mother bought the restaurant 29 years ago, and Henry bought the business from her mother in 1996.
Henry refused a high bid of $130,900 for the property at a September auction and in November leased the business to Jeff Sykes and Travis Marcus, who announced plans to reopen the restaurant and bring back curbside drive-in service this past spring.
However, in December Kingsport police arrested Marcus, the restaurant manager and a patron on gambling charges.
Lindsey said most of the restaurant equipment has since been sold off, with only a few freezers, stools and tables remaining.
Public Works Director Ryan McReynolds said the city has no immediate plans for the property, but someday it could be used as a site for concrete equalization basins for the wastewater treatment plant.
"That property and a few others between it and our plant, they provide a strategic location for our sewer system. At that point you have ... a confluence of four large sewer lines coming from different directions," said McReynolds. "When we see property being offered by a willing owner that's strategically located, it's prudent to approach them at that time."
McReynolds said the storage basins are used to collect the excess flow during rainy weather, and if ever built, could be placed underground or inside another building.
"What this flow stabilization basin can do is minimize future improvements at the plant because you're able to take this excess flow and store it and allow it at to your plant at a regulated flow rate," McReynolds said. "You're not going to see another treatment process sitting there."
McReynolds said any work done on the property would go hand in hand with the Kingsport Landing project.
The Kingsport Landing project calls for the Riverfront area to be transformed into an arts, entertainment and heritage district, with new restaurants and condos, a riverboat, the restoration of the old hospital, and the creation of an amphitheater on Long Island. The district includes Netherland Inn Road, Fort Robinson Drive, Riverport Road and Industry Drive with linkage to Weyerhaeuser and Cloud parks and downtown Kingsport.
Consultants recently completed a 20-year phased master plan for the area, which calls for an expansion and creation of new parks and walking trails along the Holston River as well as areas designated for commercial and retail development.
The Chuck's Drive-In property is included in the Kingsport Landing plan.
Tom Parham, who has spearheaded the Kingsport Landing project, said he was aware of the city's desire to obtain the property.
"I'd much rather them expand in that direction and let us have a toehold on the river in order to go upstream," Parham said. "We've been working real close with (public works), and I feel pretty comfortable with what they're trying to do."
McReynolds said the city is also talking with another property owner located near the waste- water treatment plant and adds the city has no plans or designs for the properties located near the plant.
"Our time frame is not such where we're actively pursuing these properties, other than we're being opportunistic when they come up for sale," McReynolds said.