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Kingsport - Johnson City - Bristol The Tri-Cities area
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Old 06-25-2015, 07:05 PM
 
884 posts, read 908,417 times
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I have a few questions about the Tri-Cities, specifically Kingsport. I was playing around with Google Maps the other night going up and down Stone Rd. I thought it would be pretty ramshackle like West Virginia or some other Appalachian hell hole, but I was surprised how clean it looks. I would imagine Eastman Chemical is a big influence there?

I was curious about the area. What is the economy like? Is it mostly blue collar? Government.

Of the three "Tri-Cities" which one is the best for curb appeal or are they about equal?

Which one of the three is the retail "hub" for the area?

Last edited by PerryMason614; 06-25-2015 at 07:14 PM..
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Old 06-26-2015, 07:46 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
31,548 posts, read 25,610,927 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OliverD614 View Post
I have a few questions about the Tri-Cities, specifically Kingsport. I was playing around with Google Maps the other night going up and down Stone Rd. I thought it would be pretty ramshackle like West Virginia or some other Appalachian hell hole, but I was surprised how clean it looks. I would imagine Eastman Chemical is a big influence there?

I was curious about the area. What is the economy like? Is it mostly blue collar? Government.

Of the three "Tri-Cities" which one is the best for curb appeal or are they about equal?

Which one of the three is the retail "hub" for the area?
Kingsport is a decent sized town and Stone Drive is one of its main roads. Some parts of Stone Drive are nicer (around the newer Target/Best Buy) others not as nice (around the Lynn Garden Road interchange), but it's not in bad shape overall. Keep in mind the worst of the Appalachian hellholes are going to be small towns away from larger cities. You can find some really impoverished places within an hour or so of Kingsport, like St. Paul and Pennington Gap, VA.

Eastman has a large amount of amount of influence in the Tri-Cities. IMO, Kingpsort is a "company town" where the local government basically is an extension of Eastman's wishes. Given that, Kingsport doesn't have much in the way of quality employment outside of Eastman and some medical positions. Wellmont, a medical chain in Kingsport, is being merged into Mountain States Health Alliance, a medical group in Johnson City. This will probably result in a net loss of positions overall, with redundant positions eliminated, but should benefit Johnson City more. Johnson City also has some more diversity with a younger population, the university, a couple of large hospitals, etc.

I definitely think Johnson City wins on curb appeal overall, with Bristol, VA in particular having a lot of stately home in the city around Euclid Ave. Kingsport has Watauga Street, but IMO there is not a lot within the core city that's nice.
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Old 06-26-2015, 02:25 PM
 
Location: Johnson City, TN
674 posts, read 938,523 times
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Quote:
I have a few questions about the Tri-Cities, specifically Kingsport. I was playing around with Google Maps the other night going up and down Stone Rd. I thought it would be pretty ramshackle like West Virginia or some other Appalachian hell hole, but I was surprised how clean it looks. I would imagine Eastman Chemical is a big influence there?

I was curious about the area. What is the economy like? Is it mostly blue collar? Government.

Of the three "Tri-Cities" which one is the best for curb appeal or are they about equal?

Which one of the three is the retail "hub" for the area?
The economy is fairly lackluster although it is not a depressed area. Jobs are mostly in the service sector along with some manufacturing. There are a decent number of medical jobs for the size of the area along with education. Eastman provides many of the higher-paying private sector jobs although there are numerous smaller companies in the area with a few good paying jobs.

Johnson City has the best curb appeal of the three major cities followed by Bristol, then Kingsport. Johnson City benefits from having a 15,000 student university (East TN State), a major VA facility, and a large hospital and children's hospital serving parts of KY, VA, TN, and NC. All of this brings in transplants from across the country and world giving Johnson City a more diverse, younger, and more liberal population compared to the rest of the region. It is also the retail hub of the region although the other cities are slowly catching up. Johnson City is honestly a nice place to live and kind of flies under the radar in terms of places to move to.

Kingsport is a company town basically run by Eastman. The housing stock is fairly old and the entire city has a bit of a "weathered" look, to put it nicely. It reminds me more of a northern rust-belt city than an Appalachian town. Bristol is a little nicer but still has always relied on industry, much of which has left. They are starting to tap into the tourist trade, though, and do have a very nice downtown.
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Old 06-26-2015, 08:17 PM
 
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Interesting.

So Johnson City, a place I've never heard of, is nicer than Bristol and Kingsport, two places I have heard of. --Well, kind of. I always thought Bristol was in Virginia.

Is there any such thing as a McMansion type subdivision in the area (relatively speaking for a small city - I don't mean anything too far above average) and will you find any in Kingsport or do you have to look to Johnson City to live in that kind of a development? If you're looking to relocate is the commute between the two cities okay?

Retail - I'm guessing that means that the area's mall is in Johnson City?

What about restaurants? I would guess that most of the chains would be around there. Any good local restaurants, or is it mostly just mom and pop type diners?
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Old 06-27-2015, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Jonesborough, TN
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Malls- Johnson City has a very strong mall, very clean and fully rented out. The other area malls are struggling.

McMansion type subdivisions are very prevalent in North Johnson City, and there are a couple that are closer to Jonesborough such as Highland Ridge and the Ridges. Johnson City sort of has the monopoly on high end housing. In fact, Kingsport has recently resorted to subsidizing developers who will build high end neighborhoods because so many of those who work in Kingsport live and shop in Johnson City instead. Let me make one caveat here: I sometimes have clients who come here and say "I am not picky, I just want a decent gated community". Gated communities basically do not exist and are not needed here, and if you looking for such a thing you probably won't like the area.

Again, JC is the food hub of the area. There are some locally owned restaurants and some good ones- but you will mostly find chain restaurants. I have never understood it, but locals seem much more inclined to eat at a chain than a locally owned place. And they are much more inclined to eat out than cook- so these restaurants get plenty of business.

If you can't tell, I am very biased toward JC. I like Bristol's downtown, but is nothing in Kingsport that I like, and I hate the layout of the streets, etc.
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Old 06-27-2015, 05:08 PM
 
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Kingsport isn't all bad. It really depends on what you're looking for.

As far as restaurants go, we have our local mom and pop places and we have our national chains as well so you won't starve, and JC isn't so far away if you want something a little bit different. Although I'm really not sure what JC has that you can't find here, maybe Indian but there might be a place here in Kingsport that I don't know about.

What I would like to see more of here are coffee shops with local bands, poetry slams or open mics. I know JC has a few especially being a college town, it has that vibe going on, and there's no real reason why Kingsport couldn't have them that I know of except it just doesn't seem to be a thing here.

Shopping isn't horrible here either. We have Fort Henry mall, or what's now called Kingsport Town Center, and while it hasn't changed much in the past 35+ years it still has your basic shops. I've been to JC and while it is bigger there's not a significant difference between the two.

You'll see a lot of different housing here as well, just like any small town, you've got your run down shacks that should have been condemned years ago and your country club estates. I don't know of any gated community here, but we don't really need them.

When we moved back to the area a few years ago we gave serious consideration to JC vs Kingsport. I grew up in Colonial Heights, Dh out in Elizabethton so we knew the areas fairly well. We moved here during the school year and had we gotten the kids into the University school in JC we would have been there. However we would have waited until the fall and it was my understanding we'd have to enter the placement lottery each year and we didn't want to put the kids through entering a school and switching again. So we moved here to Kingsport because of the City schools, which we felt were superior in what they could offer the kids.

Depending on what you're looking for there's not a whole lot of difference between the two cities. JC has more of a college feel (which is hard to explain, more liberal and open minded I guess) due to ETSU and I've heard folks say that Kingsport is more church orientated but no one has crammed going to church down my throat here (well except for my mother but that's a different story)

And if you pick one town and find out you'd rather be in the other, it's really doesn't take long to travel to either city.
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Old 06-27-2015, 05:29 PM
 
Location: A Yankee in northeast TN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OliverD614 View Post
Interesting.

So Johnson City, a place I've never heard of, is nicer than Bristol and Kingsport, two places I have heard of. --Well, kind of. I always thought Bristol was in Virginia.
It is, and in TN too, and they are pretty much one city with different govt' and some shared amenities. The bus system, the libraries, some of the community health care clinics, etc only require that you be a Bristol resident and it doesn't matter whether that's Bristol TN or Bristol VA.
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Old 06-27-2015, 08:49 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Bristol certainly functions as one entity. Most of the newer development, other than the Pinnacle, has been on the VA corridor for years. I think it's important to note that the Bristol Mall seemed to go down through no fault of its own - I think exit 7 and now the Pinnacle killed it.

I think the Fort Henry mall has gone down due to mismanagement and a decline in Kingsport overall. Bristol there seems to be just a shuffling of the chairs.

You're starting to see some of the local coffee/brew shop deal with Sleeping Owl in Kingsport, and they're doing well, but it is a slow crawl for them.
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Old 06-27-2015, 09:15 PM
 
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Google Earth can make anything look nice imo
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Old 06-27-2015, 09:33 PM
 
Location: Johnson City, TN
674 posts, read 938,523 times
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Quote:
Interesting.

So Johnson City, a place I've never heard of, is nicer than Bristol and Kingsport, two places I have heard of. --Well, kind of. I always thought Bristol was in Virginia.

Is there any such thing as a McMansion type subdivision in the area (relatively speaking for a small city - I don't mean anything too far above average) and will you find any in Kingsport or do you have to look to Johnson City to live in that kind of a development? If you're looking to relocate is the commute between the two cities okay?

Retail - I'm guessing that means that the area's mall is in Johnson City?

What about restaurants? I would guess that most of the chains would be around there. Any good local restaurants, or is it mostly just mom and pop type diners?
Johnson City is the largest and "nicest" city in the region and functions as the cultural and economic center for the Tri-Cities. It has the highest incomes and the highest home prices. The Johnson City Mall is the only one in the region that is succeeding and is really doing quite well. There is some higher-end retail in Johnson City; nothing compared to what you would find in a large metro but considering the city's size is fairly impressive.

On the restaurant front, Johnson City actually does quite well with quite a few very good local places, decent ethnic cuisine, a not-for-profit restaurant (one of the only ones in the state), and a burgeoning micro-brewery scene. Johnson City also has a couple of specialty grocery stores in Fresh Market and Earth Fare.
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