A proposal to turn a blighted, long-vacant property in Kingsport into about 90 new homes received a green light from the Sullivan County Commission at its Thursday evening meeting.
Located by Highway 11-W, the empty site used to house the Stonegate Plaza shopping center, which included a Walmart store. But the Walmart left sometime before 2002, according to the proposal, and most of the property has stayed empty since then.
The commission passed a resolution to adopt the plan for the $18 million “West Gate” project, as the housing redevelopment plan is being called. The resolution also included a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement to help the developer cover some of the project costs. The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen must also approve the TIF for the project.
TIFs are a financial tool local governments sometimes use to spur development without hiking taxes. Often, when an old property is redeveloped, its financial value increases, which means more property taxes are owed to the government.
But through a TIF agreement, the government agrees to dedicate some of that new tax revenue to helping the developer pay off the project costs. (The government can also use that revenue to fund other infrastructure and development projects.)
Landstar Partners LLC, the group proposing the West Gate project, asked for up to $1.2 million in TIF funds, according to the project proposal.
The proposal said that the project site is located in an area experiencing some of Kingsport’s highest crime levels.
“There’s a lot of needs,” Danny Karst, the developer leading the project, said of that part of Kingsport during the commission meeting.
Karst said he was expecting the project to create about 75 single-family homes and 14 townhouses. So far, he said, he’d only heard support for the idea from community members.
“Everybody we’ve talked to has been wonderful,” Karst said. “We hope there’ll be a lot of great returns for everybody.”
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