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Residential (re)development proposed for former Stonegate Plaza site
  • Updated

KINGSPORT — An $18 million residential development, with 90 new homes, could be coming to the site of the former Stonegate Plaza off Highway 11-W at the Interstate 26 interchange.

The new builds would be three-bedroom, two-bath homes and are estimated to be priced from $215,000 to $265,000.

Redevelopment of the site depends on approval by the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Sullivan County Commission of tax increment financing for the project, which is being called West Gate.

Tax increment financing (TIF) allows local governments to pledge growth in property tax revenues that result from increased value of property because it is redeveloped to help offset the cost associated with redeveloping a blighted area. Those costs are often seen as prohibitive by developers, compared to using “greenspace” property.

With TIF, property taxes continue to be paid, but for a set amount of time after a project is completed. An agreed upon portion of the new taxes generated is dedicated to help pay off redevelopment costs.

In this case, the developers are asking for $1.2 million in TIF money (for their $18 million project) with a payback period not to exceed 15 years.

The Stonegate Plaza Redevelopment District was designated as such by the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority in 2002. The district originally contained the former Stonegate Plaza, a shopping center anchored by a Walmart. The company vacated the property prior to 2002, and that portion of the shopping center has remained vacant since.

The redevelopment district currently experiences one of the highest crime rates in the city, according to a draft proposal presented to the Sullivan County Commission.

“The asphalt area remaining on the property is dilapidated and constitutes a deleterious land use which negatively impacts the safety and welfare of the neighboring areas,” the draft reads, in part. “Delay of the redevelopment of this site will continue to have a blighting influence on the adjacent residential areas.”

According to the proposal:

• The use of TIF will allow the redevelopment of a site that has remained almost entirely unused in the past 20 years.

• The presence of approximately 90 new single-family homes and townhomes would boost the local schools and increase economic activity in and around the redevelopment district.

• The project also would help alleviate the shortage of market rate entry level single-family homes in the Kingsport and Sullivan County markets. Available residential ownership options are critical to assist businesses in recruiting new employees to the area who will both work and live in the city and county.

• The total estimated costs of all the proposed improvements to be made by developer Landstar Partners, LLC for West Gate is $3,891,528.

• Proposed improvements by the developer include removal of the existing asphalt, grading, installation of stormwater and utilities, construction of roads, installation of landscaping, lighting and other related amenities.

• Landstar Partners, LLC will then sell the residential lots to a home builder who will construct approximately 76 single-family homes and 14 townhomes.

The single-family residences will be between 1,800 and 2,800 square feet and contain at least three bedrooms and two baths. The townhomes will be of similar size and have similar amenities.

• The purchase price for the residences and townhomes is currently estimated based on current construction costs to be between $215,000 and $265,000.

The total project investment by the developer and home builder is estimated to be in excess of $18 million.

• The primary sources of revenue to pay for the project are a $2,310,240 permanent loan to the developer, developer investment of $316,160, and tax increment based debt (to be issued by the KHRA in the form of bonds, notes, or other indebtedness) in an amount not to exceed $1,200,000.

• In no event would the bond debt be allowed to exceed debt that could be paid within 15 years.

• The total current property tax assessment for the project area is $561,320. This results in annual property tax payments to the city in the amount of $11,587 and annual property tax payments to the county in the amount of $14,425.

• The redevelopment project would result in a total estimated assessed value for property within the project area of $4,714,525 (based on an $18,858,102 tax appraised value).

• Based on current tax rates, this would result in total estimated annual city taxes of $97,321 and total estimated annual county taxes of $121,163.

• The portion of each local government’s tax rate that is dedicated to debt service is excluded from use in calculating TIF payback funds.

• The estimated total available increment from Sullivan County taxes after the statutory debt service set aside but prior to any county holdback is $ 97,600.

• The estimated total available increment from city of Kingsport taxes after statutory debt service set aside but prior to any holdback is $ 72,029.

• But the draft provides that 35% of the tax increment shall be retained by the city and county, resulting in an estimated total annual available tax increment after holdbacks and KHRA administrative fees of $104,746.

• The combined new tax revenue above the current base as a result of this project would be $43,297 to the county and $38,915 for the city.

• Approximately 180 total jobs could be created during the construction phase of the project with an estimated total economic impact of $12,350,000.

Rogersville's free Thanksgiving dinner will be delivery only
  • Updated

ROGERSVILLE — The Rogersville-based People Loving People organization recently announced that this year’s free Thanksgiving dinner will be delivery only, increasing the need for driver and packer volunteers.

Event co-founder Dr. Blaine Jones said he and fellow organizers have decided to err on the side of caution, and there will be no inside “sit down” meals served at Joseph Rogers Primary School, where the food is prepared for delivery or cafeteria dining.

“We will only be doing deliveries and having ‘to go’ meals available for folks to pick up and take home with them,” Jones said.

“With COVID cases on the rise once again and with the annual flu season beginning, we decided to not add to the risk by serving meals inside.”

Event co-organizer Mark DeWitte added, “We hate to break with tradition, but possibly adding risk to vulnerable individuals is just not something we want to do.”

“There’s a need for delivery drivers”

The change shouldn’t create much of a disruption. Traditionally, all but a few hundred of the 3,500-plus meals served every year were being delivered anyway.

It will, however, mean an increased demand for delivery drivers and meal packers. Jones noted that the volunteer count for the event is far below normal.

“There’s a need for delivery drivers with empty trunks and back seats, and meal packers who can volunteer Thanksgiving morning 7:30 a.m. or earlier,” Jones said. “We still need biscuits, cornbread, and day-old bread for stuffing; as well as cupcakes for dessert. Breads and desserts can be delivered to the school Wednesday at 10 a.m. or later.”

Volunteers are still needed to help with all facets of the meal — from as early as 10 a.m. on Wednesday until as late as 4 p.m. on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Anyone interested in volunteering can call (423) 754-7610 for more information. Jones noted that this is a great opportunity for students or anyone who needs to earn community service hours/points.

Thanksgiving meals are freshly prepared and free

Individuals should also call the number above to get on the list to have Thanksgiving meals delivered.

All meals are freshly prepared and free. To-go meals can be picked up at Joseph Rogers Primary beginning at 10 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.

Church groups or other organizations are welcome to call and request meals for delivery to their members or other individuals who may need one. Delivery of meals by volunteer drivers will begin as early as 9:30 a.m.

The event is funded completely by donations, which are needed this year more than ever. Donations can be mailed to: People Loving People Thanksgiving Dinner, P.O. Box 35, Rogersville, TN 37857.

More information is available by visiting the People Loving People Thanksgiving Dinner Facebook page or by calling (423) 754-7610.

Anyone who would like to make a donation or become a sponsor of the event can call Jones at (423) 272-3150.

Three new COVID-19 deaths, 323 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee



Sullivan County’s total reported cases of COVID-19 topped 5,000 Saturday, as 77 new cases brought the total to 5,059. Those 77 new cases were among 323 reported Saturday for Northeast Tennessee, pushing the eight-county region’s pandemic total to more than 18,000 — to 18,182.

Three new COVID-19 deaths were also reported in Northeast Tennessee (two in Sullivan County, and one in Unicoi County), bringing the region’s COVID-19 death toll to 336.

Statewide, 25 additional deaths and 4,662 more cases brought Tennessee’s pandemic totals to 3,877 deaths (3,604 confirmed as COVID-19 and 273 probable) and 305,120 cases (284,173 confirmed as COVID-19 and 20,947 probable). Of the 305,120 total, 88% (268,368) were listed as “inactive/recovered.”

The new case numbers were based on 34,246 new test results statewide, since the day before, with a positive rate of 13.03%.

New cases in Northeast Tennessee by county: 91 in Washington; 77 in Sullivan; 57 in Greene; 36 in Carter; 31 in Hawkins; 24 in Unicoi; five in Johnson; and two in Hancock.

Northeast Tennessee’s 18,182 cases, by county: 5,059 in Sullivan; 4,811 in Washington; 2,451 in Greene; 2,201 in Carter; 1,575 in Hawkins; 1,311 in Johnson; 644 in Unicoi; and 129 in Hancock.

Active cases in Northeast Tennessee by county, as of Saturday: 625 in Sullivan; 541 in Washington; 315 in Carter; 307 in Greene; 191 in Hawkins; 108 in Unicoi; 57 in Johnson; and two in Hancock.

Total deaths in Northeast Tennessee by county: 85 in Washington; 77 in Sullivan; 63 in Greene; 43 in Carter; 31 in Hawkins; 17 in Unicoi; 17 in Johnson; and three in Hancock.

The 25 new deaths reported statewide by age: nine in the 71-80 group; five in the 61-70 group; five in the 51-60 group; four in the 81-plus group; one in the 41-50 group; and one in the 21-30 group.

Source: Tennessee Department of Health.

SW Va. posts 49 new COVID-19 cases



Far Southwest Virginia saw almost 50 new COVID-19 cases and one more death, according to Saturday’s state data report.

The Virginia Department of Health (www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus) reported that the commonwealth had 1,537 new cases and 14 additional deaths in the prior 24 hours for pandemic totals of 200,799 cases and 3,799 deaths.

The LENOWISCO Health District accounted for 49 cases and one death for totals of 2,385 and 35 deaths during the pandemic. Scott County had 18 cases for totals of 607 and 10 deaths. Lee County tallied 17 cases for 723 and 11 deaths.

Wise County added 13 cases and a death for 992 and 14 deaths, while Norton saw one case for 63 cases and no deaths.

The statewide testing rate for people with nasal swab and antigen tests in Saturday’s VDH report was 3,125,263 of 8.63 million residents, or 36.21%. For nasal swab testing only, 2,887,002 people have been tested to date, or 33.34%. In the LENOWISCO district, 21,502 of the region’s 86,471 residents have been tested via nasal swab sample for COVID-19, or 24.87%.

Pandemic-wide testing rates by locality were:

• Lee County, 6,752 of 23,423, or 28.83%

• Norton, 2,063 of 3,981, or 51.82%

• Wise County, 8,024 of 37,383, or 21.46%

• Scott County, 4,663 of 21,566, or 21.62%

Red Onion State Prison remained at 20 inmate cases and no active staff/contractor cases, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap remained at no inmate cases and two active staff/contractor cases. Wise Correctional Center near Coeburn remained at 16 inmate cases and one active staff case.

The seven-day average rate of positive PCR test results in the LENOWISCO district in Saturday’s report rose from 13.4% to 14.1%. The statewide positivity rate rose from 6.5% to 6.8%

According to Saturday’s VDH pandemic measures dashboard, cases in the far southwest region of Virginia — including the LENOWISCO Health District — were ranked as rising after a 54-day increase in cases. The far southwest region ranking for percent positivity of COVID-19 testing results remained increasing based on a 34-day increase in that measure.

All four school systems in the LENOWISCO district — Wise, Lee and Scott counties and Norton — were ranked as highest-risk based on the 14-day case incidence rate in the district. Wise County Schools were ranked highest-risk for percent change in seven-day case incidences. Norton City and Scott County schools were ranked lowest-risk, and Lee County Schools ranked lower-risk.

Where to be tested

Do you think you might have COVID-19? Local health departments provide free testing.

The LENOWISCO Health Department, which covers Norton and Lee, Wise and Scott counties, posts regular updates on testing sites across the district and offers free COVID-19 tests at its county offices. Those seeking a test must call in advance for an appointment. Contact numbers for the county offices are:

• Lee County (Jonesville) — (276) 346-2011

• Scott County (Gate City) — (276) 386-1312

• Wise County and Norton (Wise) — (276) 328-8000

Additional testing and COVID-19 precaution information can be found at the LENOWISCO Health District’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Lenowisco.

The Health Wagon will partner with the Virginia Department of Health to offer 17 sessions of free drive-thru testing at Food City in St. Paul through Dec. 31. Call (276) 328-8850 for an appointment.

In Southwest Virginia, online resources are available to help evaluate whether residents might be infected and where to get a COVID-19 test. The Virginia Department of Health’s COVIDCHECK (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covidcheck/) can walk a user through symptoms they may be experiencing and help direct them to their local health department office or other available testing sites.