KINGSPORT - After five years, the project Kingsport has been waiting for is finally on its way.
Kingsport elected officials, business leaders and developers broke ground Tuesday on Town Park Lofts, a $32 million apartment project to go up on an old Supermarket Row site.
"I see a backhoe moving around over there. I think it's safe to say something is happening," Kingsport Economic Development Board (KEDB) Chairman Bill Dudney said before the ground breaking.
KEDB thought it had a deal last year with Georgia-based Crossgate Partners but it stalled. But the two sides and City Manager Jeff Fleming kept communicating with each other.
"This is a great day for us," Kingsport Mayor John Clark noted. " ... There's construction going on all over the place for many different reasons, whether it's a hotel or restaurants ... one major emphasis for our cit the past two years has been to improve the housing options ... having that apartment project will make our city more livable."
Town Park Lofts is expected to be a 263-unit housing complex on seven acres with one and two bedroom apartments, along with 8,000 square feet of retail space. Features include a resort-style swimming pool, clubhouse, fitness center and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The project, according to a Kingsport Chamber of Commerce release, will have a $48.3 million economic impact and create 400 jobs.
Fleming said the main incentive given to Crossgate was 23 years of not paying property taxes, but he added that will be offset by growing sales tax and fee revenues. KEDB had owned the land but sold it to Crossgate for about $1.9 million minus approximately $190,000 in so-called “debits,” including a $100,000 infrastructure credit given to Crossgate due to site issues. The city will also not have to spend money on creating new infrastructure, such as roads, for the project, Fleming pointed out.
"Every time we had a problem, we worked through it," Fleming said.
Crossgate Managing Principal Randy Moore promised the apartment units will be "best in class" in the area.
"We consider Kingsport as the jewel of the Tri-Cities," Moore said. "We think we've found a really beautiful home."
Moore said construction will take about 18 months, and pre-leasing activity will start in 13-14 months.