Senator Rusty Crowe: ‘Potentially a Costco…’ coming to proposed Johnson City development


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- It’s a retailer that people in the Tri-Cities region have asked about for years, and on Friday it was mentioned once again by Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) as a possibility for the area.

News Channel 11’s Kristen Gallant spoke with Senator Crowe just one day after the legislative session ended in Nashville.

It was during this most recent session where Senator Crowe advocated for the passage of the “Regional Retail Tourism Development District Act,” which is similar to the “Border Region Retail Tourism Development District Act.”

Pinnacle-style development could be coming to Johnson City

That act helped kick-start the Pinnacle retail development site that sits right on the Tennessee-Virginia border in Bristol.

According to the bill, the development is reasonably expected to require at least $20 million in capital investment and is also expected to draw at least one million annual visitors upon completion. 

With approval from the House and the Senate, the fate of the project would be in the hands of Johnson City leaders, allowing them to pass an ordinance designating the development district. 

Developer’s insight on what it takes to bring retailers to the Tri-Cities

When Kristen spoke to Senator Crowe on Friday, he shared who he heard may be moving into that 950-acre development in Boones Creek, “Potentially a Costco or something like that….”

It was October 2015 the last time we heard the retailer Costco could potentially be coming to the Tri-Cities.

Costco coming to the Tri-Cities?

That statement came from State Representative Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) as he was on a tour of Washington County with House Speaker Beth Harwell.

At the time, Hill said there was nothing official but that the global retailer had a “verbal commitment” to come to the county as part of a large retail development in the Boones Creek area.

“Costco has not given a written commitment, but they have given…negotiated a verbal commitment that they would be the anchor for a very large…what would be a very prosperous development,” Hill said.

Less than 24 hours after Mathew Hill made those remarks, he then said he may have done a poor job communicating what he meant to say.

Rep. Hill now says no Costco agreement in works

Hill backed away from that statement. He said he was trying to stress the importance of fixing roadways around Exit 17 in order to increase the region’s chances of developing the land.

Now, that project to make improvements at the Boones Creek Exit on Interstate 26 seems to have gained momentum.

Summers-Taylor wins bid for Boones Creek I-26 project

It was just last week when we reported that the Tennessee Department of Transportation has awarded Summers-Taylor, Inc. of Elizabethton the contract for a project involving the Interstate 26 Exit 17 bridge.

While Senator Rusty Crowe mentioned Costco in conversation, the developer of the property for the potential retail site, Joe Wilson, wouldn’t name any specific retailers.

The next step for this development to become a reality is for Governor Bill Lee to sign the legislation.

If that happens then the bill must continue to gain further state and local approval.

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