KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Economic Development Board has agreed to build the downtown allied health center for the city.
KEDB members unanimously voted to agree to a proposal in principle as outlined by City Attorney Mike Billingsley, City Manager John Campbell and Assistant City Manager for Development Jeff Fleming.
The city will give the old Clinchfield parking lot to the KEDB as the site for the 42,600-square-foot building to house nursing and other health programs of Northeast State Technical Community College as well as some allied health offerings by King College.
Then the KEDB, with help from the city, will have J.A. Street Associates build the center for no more than $4.9 million.
For the center, slated to open in August 2008, the city will pay the KEDB its cost.
The center is being funded by three-year city capital outlay notes. Campbell explained after the meeting that having the KEDB do the project allows construction to start sooner, next month, and get J.A. Street under contract now.
“There may be additional buildings we’d like KEDB to do in the future,” Billingsley said. “Your group provides us with more flexibility than the city does on these things. That’s one reason you exist.”
Billingsley and Campbell said the final contract language may change slightly, pending review of it by attorney Gorman Waddell, an ex-officio member of the KEDB.
Fleming said the agreement is a giant step in the redevelopment of downtown and the proposed higher education center the city plans to build there.
Mayor Dennis Phillips said he is grateful to business owners willing to be bought out and relocate so the higher education center can be built.
In other action, the board voted to approve the downtown facade grant application of Aaron Carson for up to $5,000 for facade work at 345 E. Sullivan St., per the recommendation of the Facade Committee.
The board also followed the committee’s recommendation and authorized the release of up to $5,000 each for already approved grant applications of Beatty-Lane Development at 242 E. Main St., Ralph Crawford at 245 Broad St. and Shawn Sutterlin at 207 Broad St., contingent on required city building inspections documenting the work.
KEDB Vice Chairman Bob Feathers, chairing the meeting in the absence of KEDB Chairman Larry Estepp, said there had been a misunderstanding over what the inspectors had to sign off on and inspect.
In addition, Betty Martin of the NETWORKS – Sullivan Partnership said a request for proposals is going out for landscaping on the interior of the Northeast Business Park near Tri-Cities Regional Airport. She also said economic developers are raising concerns about the lack of mowing along Airport Parkway.
Phillips said he believes the city could spend $175,000 a year to mow rights of ways every two weeks. That’s the cost estimate for city crews to do the work, but he said the work will be bid out to see if it’s cheaper.
The mayor said particularly troublesome areas were Stone Drive in front of Wallace Nissan, where grass was recently 42.5 inches high, and Airport Parkway. Campbell said the Tennessee Department of Transportation mows those areas four times a year.