Photo By Sharon Caskey-Hayes.
BRISTOL, Va. — Just over a week after Bass Pro Shops announced it will locate in Bristol, Tenn., competitor Cabela’s announced Wednesday it plans to locate in Bristol, Va.
Bristol, Va., city officials said Wednesday that Cabela’s has signed on to be one of two major anchors at The Falls, a new 1.5 million-square-foot retail complex off Exit 5.
“It’s no joke — this is very real,” said Dewey Cashwell, city manager of Bristol, Va., adding he has letters of intent from another seven major retailers wanting to locate at the site.
Cashwell said the city will give Cabela’s land and $25 million to construct its new 85,000-square-foot store — the company’s first location in Virginia.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2013 and Cabela’s expects to be open in 2014.
Cashwell said the city, thanks to a new law passed earlier this year by the Virginia legislature, will be able to recoup its investment through the collection of sales tax revenues generated from the new shopping complex.
The new law, aimed to help Virginia localities that border other states, requires that the shopping complex represent a capital investment of at least $50 million; generate at least $5 million annually in state sales and use tax revenues; attract at least 1 million visitors a year; and create at least 2,000 permanent jobs.
Cashwell said he sees no problem in meeting those requirements.
“In fact, we anticipate that the number of jobs will be well over 2,000, that the capital investment will be $300 to $400 million, and that the sales tax revenue to the city alone is going to be somewhere between $30 and $40 million,” Cashwell said.
The new Virginia law will allow Bristol to keep 100 percent of the sales taxes generated from the new retail development to help pay for the development.
The law was sponsored by Sen. Bill Carrico and Del. Israel O’Quinn, and other local legislators signed on.
“It allows Virginia to compete with neighboring Tennessee and land projects just like this,” said Carrico at Wednesday’s announcement.
O’Quinn said the new development will be a “tourist destination” that will grow the local tax base, increase revenues, and provide jobs.
“It’s a big, big deal,” he said.
Last week, Bass Pro Shops announced it would locate at the new Pinnacle development, a 400-acre, mixed-use complex at Exit 74 off Highway 11W in Bristol, Tenn.
Bass Pro Shops Founder Johnny Morris and developer Steve Johnson of Johnson Commercial Development will hold a groundbreaking for the project on Friday at the site, located on a hill behind the Tennessee Welcome Center off Interstate 81.
Bass Pro Shops is expected to be open in late 2013 or early 2014.
Like the Bristol, Va., project, the Bristol, Tenn., development will too rely on legislation designed to help it compete with neighboring states. Tennessee legislators passed a law allowing border communities to recapture up to 59 percent of all state sales taxes generated from special retail districts for up to 30 years.
Cashwell said Virginia’s legislation was passed in response to the new Tennessee law.
“What this means is that financing is 100 percent derived from the sales tax generated by this (Virginia) project,” Cashwell said. “The user fee is being financed by the three million people who visit this destination, not the 18,000 who call it home.”
And although Bristol, Va., is giving Cabela’s $25 million to locate in the city, Cabela’s is expected to repay $5 million towards infrastructure and common spaces inside the new development, Cashwell said. And with up to $40 million in sales tax revenue expected to be generated by Cabela’s, Bristol, Va., leaders expect to recoup their investment “in a very short number of years,” he said.
The Falls development is expected to cost more than $200 million. Development will occur over three phases, and when completed, add 1.5 million square feet of retail space generating more than $500 million in annual sales.
In addition to retail stores and restaurants, city leaders said the development will include lodging and entertainment, and possibly an IMAX theater. Cashwell said he also hopes to include a visitor’s center that will showcase Bristol’s various attributes, including its downtown.
is also hoping to take advantage of the Tennessee border legislation with a retail development at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 26.