Kingsport to consider purchasing remainder of General Shale property

Matthew Lane • Updated Aug 1, 2017 at 8:36 AM

KINGSPORT — One of the biggest ideas to come out of the One Kingsport summit may get a significant boost and could become a reality within the next few years.

After eight months of negotiations, Kingsport and General Shale have reached an agreement for the purchase of 14 acres of land off Industry Drive, property directly across from Brickyard Park and a potential site for the creation of a large, outdoor venue space for events like concerts and performances.

This outdoor venue was one of the biggest and potentially most expensive ideas to come out of the brainstorming session of the One Kingsport summit nearly two years ago.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen are expected to vote on the agreement for the purchase of the property during its regular meeting Tuesday night. City leaders spent nearly an hour Monday evening discussing the purchase.

Vice Mayor Mike McIntire said he thinks the city needs to go ahead and gain control of the property.

Alderman Tommy Olterman said Kingsport should get rid of some property before buying other property. Alderwoman Colette George said if the city were to purchase the 14 acres, she wants Kingsport to do something with it and not just sit on it.

A breakdown of the agreement is as follows:

— A purchase price of $1 million, which is $50,000 below the appraisal.

— General Shale will donate $100,000 of building materials at retail value to be used exclusively in other city construction projects, and Kingsport will agree to not use competitor products.

— The donated materials must be used within the next five years.

— At the request of General Shale, Kingsport would close on the property by Aug. 31.

To help figure out what could go on the 14 acres, Kingsport hired Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon to come up with several conceptual plans.

One such plan provided to the BMA shows an outdoor venue (basically an open lawn with seating capacity for 15,000), two adjacent parking lots, two multi-purpose fields and cross-country running paths (1-,2-, and 3-mile paths). On the north side of the property is an extended Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks near Cherokee Street.

City officials also suggested the remaining 24 acres of the General Shale property (owned by the Kingsport Economic Development Board) could become residential. The KEDB plans to seek requests for proposals on this land.

Chris McCartt, assistant city manager for administration, said an outdoor venue would cost in the $5 to $7 million range and a pedestrian bridge would be another $1 million. A fully developed site with all phases complete would likely be in the $20 million range, he said.

The General Shale property was ideal for city officials because 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.

Four years ago, the Kingsport Economic Development Board purchased 98 acres of the General Shale property for $2.77 million. Kingsport then leased nearly 39 acres of that land for the construction of Brickyard Park.

That left General Shale with about 14 acres at the site, or basically a strip of land on the left side of the road leading up toward Brickyard Park. Kingsport 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 did not happen right away, with Kingsport and General Shale officials going back and forth over a purchase price.

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