‘The view of Church Circle from one angle or the silhouette of Bay’s Mountain from the other’
KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – After 104 years, Kingsport has opened a new city hall across the street from where city founders historically planned to house employees and services.
For years, different city departments have been scattered across Kingsport. Now, those employees are all able to work in one building, centrally located in the heart of downtown Kingsport at 415 Broad Street.
Former City Manager Jeff Fleming recalled Tuesday the journey he started when deciding to relocate Kingsport City Hall to the former bank building on Broad Street.
“It means convenience, it means accessibility. The city hall that we were in we had outgrown. We had employees that were scattered all across town, and now it’s nice to have one place where you can come and do all the business that you need to do with at one place,” Fleming told News Channel 11.
The six-floor building is the tallest publicly-owned, non-industrial building in the city.
“It’s just an amazing place and it’s a great representation of our community. When you bring potential developers or citizens and you get the view of Church Circle from one angle or the silhouette of Bay’s Mountain from the other. It just gives the best impression possible of our town,” Fleming said.
He explained that the city conducted a study when the old bank building because available to see if it could be converted into a boutique hotel. The study found that the building could not be retrofitted to support plumbing for a hotel, so it became a clear option to become the city’s new place of business.
“We pitched it to the board of mayor and aldermen, they saw the value in the vision in that, and rest is history,” Fleming said.
‘Pleased to be here’
As for the roughly 105 employees who were scattered about the city, Public Works Administrator Sheila Catron told News Channel 11 that at first, moving to one building was a big adjustment.
“The best thing was where we had this building renovated in two phases: So, the first phase was floors three through six; the second phase was floors one and two. So with the first phase being three through six, we were able to move the folks in on the sixth floor first. And then we just went down by floors, and then we were still renovating the first floor when we were all moving in, so it was a little chaotic but it has been well worth the journey,” she said.
Coordinating city employees’ time was tough and juggling locations was even tougher, Catron explained. Rendering the new building is not only convenient but necessary.
“It’s very convenient to have everyone here especially scheduling meetings, we know that we’re here just on different floors, we’re not going to different buildings across town, it’s more efficient. It’s so much better for the customer,” Catron explained.
She said this makes conducting business easier for employees, but more importantly, for the residents of Kingsport as well.
“It was a vision that we just, you know, we were able to just see it all the way through. We’re still in the heart of the city – 415 Broad Street is still the heart of the city. So we’re just, you know, pleased to be here,” she said.
“So it really, it allowed us to kind of go back and capture our history, be reflective of who we are as a town, and just really capitalize on all the amazing assets that we have right around us,” Fleming added.
The design work for the new location was done by Cain Rash West Architects, and the construction was done by Construction partners, LLC.
The total cost of the project amounted to $8,853,670.01. Thanks to the pandemic, the transition took longer than initially intended.
“The things that should have taken nine days to be delivered turned into nine weeks,” said Chris McCartt, city manager. “Fortunately we had an outstanding team and construction partners that they were patient, we were patient with them. It was uncharted territory.”
“It’s something I think our community will be very proud of,” Fleming said of the new location. “It’s just a tremendous resource for our employees for our citizens and our community.”
The building is made up of six floors, totaling 74,427 square feet.
“The citizens of Kingsport allowed us to buy this building, renovate it, move in,” said Kingsport mayor Pat Shull. “And it’s really a tribute to the great community.”