During the One Kingsport summit process more than 18 months ago, one of the bigger, and potentially most expensive, ideas to come out of the brainstorming session was the creation of a large outdoor venue space.
Summit participants and city officials suggested and later recommended that the venue be located on the old General Shale property off Industry Drive. Reasons for that decision were that Kingsport controlled most of the property anyway, it would be close to downtown, and Brickyard Park would be adjacent to the venue.
However, Kingsport did not control all of the property at the site.
A few years ago, the Kingsport Economic Development Board purchased 98 acres of the General Shale property for $2.77 million. The city then leased nearly 39 acres of that land for the construction of Brickyard Park.
Kingsport leaders envisioned the remaining land as a potential site for an industrial park.
This left General Shale with about 12 to 14 acres at the site, or basically a strip of land on the left-hand side of the road leading up toward Brickyard Park. The city set aside $98,000 in One Kingsport funds last year to pay the debt service on the property, if a purchase agreement came through.
That has not happened as Kingsport and General Shale officials are still going back and forth over a purchase price.
“The price they were asking did not match our appraisal, and they did not want to negotiate. So we just indicated we couldn’t pay that,” City Manager Jeff Fleming told the Times-News recently. “Since then, they made a counteroffer and we countered again.”
Kingsport’s appraisal for the property came in at $900,000. Fleming said General Shale was willing to take $1 million and spread the payments out over the course of three years.
Assistant City Manager Chris McCartt said negotiations are ongoing.
“If (General Shale) accepts the offer, we’re prepared to take it to the BMA, and we have a funding source to go with it,” Fleming said. “If they don’t, then we’ll have to work around it.”