The Tennessee Senate passed a bill Thursday that could open the door for a major retail development in the Boones Creek area of Johnson City.
Senator Rusty Crowe spoke before the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee Thursday where he advocated for the passage of the “Regional Retail Tourism Development District Act,” which is similar to the “Border Region Retail Tourism Development District Act.”
That act helped kick-start the Pinnacle retail development site that sits right on the Tennessee-Virginia border in Bristol.
Johnson City officials revealed a developer advanced the idea, but said they didn’t know who it was.
“This bill was brought forward by a group of folks that have an interest in making a development out in exit 17,” said Pete Peterson, City Manager of Johnson City.
Washington County Tennessee Mayor Joe Grandy says a retail district in Boones Creek would be ideal.
“The studies we have had done on retail suggested Boone’s creek is the primary location for retail particularly high end retail,” Grandy said.
On April 16th, Senator Crowe spoke before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.
“Some time ago, I think Senator Lundberg passed a bill called the ‘Border Regional Retail Tourism Development District Act’, which resulted in a really nice zoned area that I think we call ‘The Pinnacle’ now, this would do essentially the same thing, and actually the drafting is almost word for word I think,” Crowe said. “The Regional Retail Development District or Zone, and it is defined by the area that is no more than about a half a mile from the Boones Creek, I-26 at Boones Creek where the interchange will be…so it is essentially that area up there of Boones Creek, 950 acres.”
Senator Crowe went on to describe what this bill means in terms of both local and state revenue.
“…We’re saying that we are going to allow 75% of the state’s share of the sales tax to go to the development district, to the city I’m sorry, to the city, to Johnson City, and that would be in a trust for use later in the development in the project as it goes down the line…this would have to be designated by the local ordinance of Johnson City and certified by the commissioner of revenue to take effect,” Crowe said.
Crowe told the committee this would be for the more rural area of Johnson City that is not yet developed.
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.