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Today, McMansions; tomorrow, prime rib biscuits; the day after, Hooters

November 5th, 2013 9:19 am by Roger Davis

Today, McMansions; tomorrow, prime rib biscuits; the day after, Hooters

Just the other day, I was standing in line at Pal’s and muttering to myself, “I’m in the mood for something different, something with more ‘Jenny say what,’ as the French say. What I’d really like to order is a prime rib biscuit. Or better yet, a smoked salmon sandwich and spinach salad with aged gorgonzola.”

Sadly those items aren’t on the menu. At least not yet. However, thanks to our city leaders’ latest vision for hope and change, I might get my wish sooner rather than later.

In what has become a never-ending mission to subsidize everything except the weather, the Kingsport BMA has decided that you and I should pony up to help developers build $500,000 homes. Such McMansions are in critically short supply here in the Model City.

The theory is that by attracting the wealthy (and by my standards, anyone who can afford a $500,000 house fits the bill), Kingsport and Kingsporters will benefit. Basically, it’s trickle-down economics. The very presence of the rich will improve our demographics and draw swankier retailers and other businesses while the property taxes of the affluent will flow to the city’s coffers like milk and honey. Prosperity will generate more prosperity, and in the process, the rest of us eventually will be trickled-down upon. City leaders are apparently very serious about getting this trickle trickling. Some of them have been making noise about providing a — Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Yes, a subsidy to developers to construct “luxury” apartments on Supermarket Row. Apparently luxury is sorely lacking downtown, just where one would expect demand to be greatest.

One alderman wants to take Kingsport to the “next level.” Whatever that actually means, you can be sure it will be expensive. I’m thinking a spaceport or a skyscraper since we’ve already subsidized everything else.

At any rate, I’ve been excitedly thinking about some of the possible trickles that we might see in the near future.

First, there’s the fancier Pal’s menu I mentioned at the beginning of this column. Just think what a winning combination that haute cuisine and Pal’s legendary service would be. I’m stunned that Pal hasn’t thought of it. Yes, I drive a pickup truck, detest shirts with buttons and drop my G’s at the end of words, but I’d be first in line for haute chow in a flash.

Second, the Kingsport Town Center, called the Fort Henry Mall by everyone on Earth and beyond except the property’s owners, could finally get that food court. My fingers are crossed. Petro’s chili and chips is my only vice.

Third, continuing the food theme, let’s get pumped about the possible arrival of a Jack in the Box. Right now, Kingsport ain’t got Jack, but it should.

Fourth, we might soon welcome upscale retailers such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus and other big names I know nothing about. Oops, I meant “about which I know nothing.” See, the mere thought of being trickled-down upon has improved my grammar. No doubt the same thing will happen in our schools, as TCAP scores climb like kudzu.

Fifth, we might finally be able to stanch Kingsport’s brain drain. As it is, our best and brightest young people go elsewhere, while the ne’er-do-wells, layabouts and pill poppers won’t. That situation needs to be reversed yesterday.

And last but not least, maybe we’ll finally get a Hooters.

That, my friends, is how Kingsport will know it’s beginning to overcome its unfortunate demographic reputation. Such a business might even be worthy of a (dare I say it?) subsidy. 

Roger Davis is a Kingsport Times-News columnist. E-mail him at

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