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Old 04-24-2018, 02:13 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cooldiver View Post
I think it is a bit premature to write off the new FHM management. The mall was on the path to closing, and they seem to be having some success bringing in new tenants. I don't know that they will succeed, but certainly they are giving it a try and it cannot be accomplished overnight.

It's a shame that the IMAX theatre was never built. That would have been a draw, but I can find no recent references so I expect that plan is dead. (The movie market in Tri Cities is kind of weird anyway, with the 7 screen theatre off I-81 hanging to life even with the former outlet center around it being almost completely dead.)
Well, they are going to have to get much more creative in order to survive. They are going to have to go out of the box in terms of thinking--people have to want to get out and actually go there. Most folks under 50 in the Kingsport area travel to Target, The Pinnacle or the Mall in JC--and skip Ft Henry entirely....

Some ideas I'd have to increase foot traffic at Ft Henry:
Think about putting in a 4-5 story hotel where the Sears store is now. Let that connect to the mall, and create several restaurants around it.
Also, add a bowling alley, Dave and Buster's style gaming attraction, or even a mini-golf or batting cage attraction to get the millenial and family set there. Possibly even an adult obstacle course type attraction?
These types of things would be "must see/must visit" attractions.

They should take a page out of Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, and go that route, at this point.

If the owners were really set on rejuvenating this mall and having it thrive and be competitive with the Mall at Johnson City, they would move away from the late 80s/early 90s "doomed to fail" model, and start to invest in some more unique ideas that could work.
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Old 04-24-2018, 10:14 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjbradleynyc View Post
Yeah, I typically only think of larger metros when I apply this thinking to malls, and keep thinking of Johnson City's mall as not being in a "larger metro." Granted, JC's metro is around 200k, and the entire tri-cities region, with VA, is around 500k, so it's a decently large mid-size area.

I think what may happen with Ft Henry, is that it will just sit empty until uses start to populate the center such as discount stores, a church, community center, etc., and those stores will intermix with a few of the "stronger" stores that do good business, like the theater, Piccadilly, Belk, and Italian Village....I believe you are right, the zombie state may be one of a permanent state.

If it keeps being stagnant as-is, with a lack of creativity and business savvy that the management does not seem to really have, I can see it eventually being completely razed in 8-10 years. A good replacement for that location could wind up being a big theater, with maybe a grocery store and a couple other restaurants.

As-is, they literally have nothing to lure in customers. The mindset seems to be one of the late '80s. That mindset is going to put a padlock on the front door sooner rather than later unfortunately.
Johnson City may be a fairly small metro, but it acts as the "high end hub" for an area much larger than its own metro. In many ways, Johnson City is the higher end retail, dining, and entertainment center for Kingsport-Bristol, as well as some more far flung counties in southwest VA, Greeneville area, and some parts of western NC. The Johnson City Mall has always been the "attraction" mall, even dating back to times when Kingsport and Bristol had relatively healthy malls.

The problem here boils back to the same phenomenon that has been discussed ad nauseum - due to the space between the cities and general competitive nature between them, you don't have the amenities of the a 500k area. A 500k area might get a Macy's or Dillard's. We get neither. Instead, we have a lot of redundant amenities - multiple Belks, multiple Sears, multiple Penneys, and the like. The Tri-Cities has never been able to make that leap to the "next rung" of retail.

To me, the frustrating thing is to watch the owners pour money, time, and effort into a renovation that is actually nice, and then it just peter out.

To be frank, I don't know how Italian Village makes it. The Misciagnas own two other restaurants in Kingsport - Raffaele's in Colonial Heights is basically a clone of Italian Village. Giuseppe's is higher end and on Stone Drive. Both could use some updating/refreshing. I never cared for the Italian Village pizza - just too greasy. I'll go for a hoagie at Raffaele's. Piccadilly is going to slowly die off as its customer base is aging.

I just don't see a bright future ahead after that momentum stalled out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjbradleynyc View Post
This is spot-on, in terms of your location assessment. Johnson City had the fortunate foresight to put the JC Mall right near I-26 and bustling Roan Street, an ideally situated spot for heavy-trafficked retail.

On-the-other-hand, Kingsport, had the unfortunate lack of foresight to place Fort Henry Mall at the intersection of Fort Henry Drive and Memorial Boulevard. These are two roadways in Kingsport that are decently trafficked, but are not Stone Drive or near an interstate intersection. The closest "bypass highway" is John B. Dennis, which is about half mile away.

And you are right. As it stands now, the only reason to go to Fort Henry is the theater. Nothing else there is a draw really. So, this is going to be the ultimate demise of that mall--no reason to visit it really.
I don't think the location is that big of a problem. That has historically been a heavily trafficked area of town. It may be less so today as there are more jobs than just Eastman that don't pass that intersection, as well as a significant number of Eastman employees coming from Johnson City, and the mall's intersection is not in their travel pattern. There are neighborhoods around the mall. That area is pretty good about sidewalks and crosswalks - you could literally walk to the mall without much hassle from any area around it.
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Old 04-24-2018, 10:26 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Originally Posted by cooldiver View Post
So it's kind of important to remember that all 3 malls are over 40 years old. They were built where a large expanse of relatively flat land was available. This is not so easy given the terrain of the Tri-Cities. The Fort Henry Mall was built on the former Roller Woods, which was a rare tract of empty flattish land within the city on a major commercial corridor. (Yes, Ft. Henry drive is a major commercial corridor, just ask Walmart.) Only other option would have been to go onto Stone Drive which eventually the small mall which contained the Martin Theatre and Montgomery Ward did. (But that site is not as large as the Fort Henry Mall site.) And back then Eastman Road was a two lane traffic jam.

You draw a circle around the Fort Henry Mall site and you encompass a lot of households. So I would argue that it was a great site for its time. (Though in fact there was substantial opposition to the site - "Don't Mall our Woods.")

Bristol Mall was out of the way a bit, but near Highway 11 which was a major commercial corridor at the time, and Bristol Mall is also on a major route to I-81. Volunteer Parkway might have had more appeal, but again problematic to obtain a large flat tract of land and not be out in the boondocks.

Both malls were very prosperous for years. Now the Bristol Mall is padlocked, while the Fort Henry Mall (now bearing its original name once again) is struggling and hoping to revitalize. Will that work - time will tell.

I think it is a bit premature to write off the new FHM management. The mall was on the path to closing, and they seem to be having some success bringing in new tenants. I don't know that they will succeed, but certainly they are giving it a try and it cannot be accomplished overnight.

It's a shame that the IMAX theatre was never built. That would have been a draw, but I can find no recent references so I expect that plan is dead. (The movie market in Tri Cities is kind of weird anyway, with the 7 screen theatre off I-81 hanging to life even with the former outlet center around it being almost completely dead.)
Yes, it's more important to keep these site placement decisions in the context of the times in which they were built. Today, it seems stupid for the mall to be built at the site Fort Henry sits on, but it was good sense in that era.

I grew up in Kingsport. As recently as twenty or even fifteen years ago, there was a much more robust retail and dining scene around the mall where you could conceivably make several stops or make an evening out of it. As I said, there was a skating rink near the mall at one time. There was a record store. Winn-Dixie used to be there. Warpath Lanes used to be nicer. There used to be a few more things near where Shoney's is than there are today.

The old Kingsport Mall site was a prime retail spot. I was very young when the interior closed. I remember Office Depot coming in, which essentially cut Montgomery Ward off from the interior of the mall. It died shortly thereafter. The sad thing is that Kingsport had, at one time, two at least somewhat viable malls - today, it has no viable mall and is hemorrhaging retail. I grew up in the late 90s/early 2000s. Kingsport had three theaters at one point - Martin (Kingsport Mall), Fort Henry, and Terrace (where current HMG building sits). Before Frank opened the Fort Henry theater back up, Kingsport was without a theater for at least several years. The theater at the old Carolina Pottery mall is hanging on by virtually cutting expenses to the bone and operating on a shoestring.

The Bristol Mall suffered from a lack of signage/marketing from the interstate, as well as the rise of Exit 7. Once the plans for The Pinnacle were announced, everyone just moved down there or to other parts of Bristol. The stores that were in the Bristol Mall largely didn't fold/close - they just moved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjbradleynyc View Post
Well, they are going to have to get much more creative in order to survive. They are going to have to go out of the box in terms of thinking--people have to want to get out and actually go there. Most folks under 50 in the Kingsport area travel to Target, The Pinnacle or the Mall in JC--and skip Ft Henry entirely....

Some ideas I'd have to increase foot traffic at Ft Henry:
Think about putting in a 4-5 story hotel where the Sears store is now. Let that connect to the mall, and create several restaurants around it.
Also, add a bowling alley, Dave and Buster's style gaming attraction, or even a mini-golf or batting cage attraction to get the millenial and family set there. Possibly even an adult obstacle course type attraction?
These types of things would be "must see/must visit" attractions.

They should take a page out of Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, and go that route, at this point.

If the owners were really set on rejuvenating this mall and having it thrive and be competitive with the Mall at Johnson City, they would move away from the late 80s/early 90s "doomed to fail" model, and start to invest in some more unique ideas that could work.
I don't disagree that they need to do something different.

With that said, is there a 4-5 story hotel in all of Kingsport other than at Meadowview and maybe some of the chain hotels along J.B. Dennis near Meadowview? I can't think of any. There's no realistic hope of this happening. No market for it.

The bowling alley that used to be on Stone Drive going toward Bristol was razed years ago. Warpath Lanes is barely hanging on, near as I can tell. A Dave and Buster's type thing won't relocate to Kingsport. There simply isn't enough disposable income for it. Furthermore, it's just not "culturally Kingsport."

I don't disagree with any of your suggestions, but even if you put a Dave and Buster's in Kingsport, I doubt Kingsport's stodgy conservative culture would allow it to succeed. Johnson City, and even Bristol, have a far more dynamic and pragmatic local culture. The culture is a big problem holding Kingsport back.
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Old 04-27-2018, 10:50 AM
 
Location: Kingsport
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[quote= The bowling alley that used to be on Stone Drive going toward Bristol was razed years ago. Warpath Lanes is barely hanging on, near as I can tell. A Dave and Buster's type thing won't relocate to Kingsport. There simply isn't enough disposable income for it. Furthermore, it's just not "culturally Kingsport."

I don't disagree with any of your suggestions, but even if you put a Dave and Buster's in Kingsport, I doubt Kingsport's stodgy conservative culture would allow it to succeed. Johnson City, and even Bristol, have a far more dynamic and pragmatic local culture. The culture is a big problem holding Kingsport back.[/QUOTE]


I have to agree about realities of a bowling alley and Dave and Buser's. I also don't disagree that there's a need to think outside the box. But there's also a reality that says if there's a market demand for a service or product entrepreneurs will rise to that demand. There's a lot of talk here about what some would like to see, but if there's no market demand there is little likelihood that those firms or services will become a reality or sustainable if a business person takes the plunge. The examples of "building it and they will come" are not on the cutting edge of successes. The key focus is to look at market leakage as a priority. While I'm far from an expert it seems the demographics of Kingsport points on those who capitalize on what the demographics of the city are and where the trend is headed. There does seem to be a niche in Kingsport for the older Millennials and youngest GenXers who are attracted - by preference or profession - to an aging and conservative community. The one thing that would change the Kingsport culture that is so often cited here is a jobs market that would attract a lot of younger professionals who forge their own way instead of falling into step with the Kingsport way.
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Old 04-27-2018, 01:45 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Page2 View Post
I have to agree about realities of a bowling alley and Dave and Buser's. I also don't disagree that there's a need to think outside the box. But there's also a reality that says if there's a market demand for a service or product entrepreneurs will rise to that demand. There's a lot of talk here about what some would like to see, but if there's no market demand there is little likelihood that those firms or services will become a reality or sustainable if a business person takes the plunge. The examples of "building it and they will come" are not on the cutting edge of successes. The key focus is to look at market leakage as a priority. While I'm far from an expert it seems the demographics of Kingsport points on those who capitalize on what the demographics of the city are and where the trend is headed. There does seem to be a niche in Kingsport for the older Millennials and youngest GenXers who are attracted - by preference or profession - to an aging and conservative community. The one thing that would change the Kingsport culture that is so often cited here is a jobs market that would attract a lot of younger professionals who forge their own way instead of falling into step with the Kingsport way.
https://drakescomeplay.com/

The Pinnacle in Bristol is getting a new restaurant concept kind of like a Dave and Buster's called Drake's. I've been to the one in Indianapolis when I lived there. This is the type of thing that could really give the Fort Henry Mall the boost it needs to get going, as it's more than just a restaurant, yet this is going to Bristol. This is another missed opportunity for Kingsport, but even if it had come to Kingsport, would the residents even support it? It just doesn't seem "culturally Kingsport."

Aubrey's, the Knoxville based chain, is finishing up a restaurant in Johnson City. This could have been another anchor type for the mall, but they chose to bypass Kingsport, and have instead located in both Bristol and Johnson City. I've seen other locally owned restaurants that probably would have succeeded in Johnson City fold in Kingsport over the years. Craft beer has really gotten going in Johnson City and Bristol, with each having several breweries. Kingsport has one small craft brewery that doesn't even sell its beer at retail or really distribute to other restaurants. That brewery is more of a concert venue and the beer seems secondary.

Kingsport residents are just not as open to new things, and I think that's becoming more evident over time as Johnson City and even Bristol continue to get new things and innovate to some extent.

I agree that if there was a market for some of this stuff, someone would have already taken the risk. Places like Aubrey's and Drake's are looking at cities to open their businesses and are increasingly bypassing Kingsport. Kingsport needs to find out the why and at least try to address why businesses are not choosing it.

I don't want to paint with too broad of a brush here, but by and large, the Millennials who remain in Kingsport tend to be more blue collar, less educated, etc., than Johnson City, at least that's how I see it in my social circle. I'm not as familiar with Bristol. Those typically aren't the people starting new businesses or really pushing the culture forward. Like you said, many of those folks are also stodgy and conservative, and will go with the Kingsport flow.

There definitely needs to be some new people and fresh perspectives introduced to Kingsport. The thing is that with Johnson City fairly close by, it's easy to just live there, even if you work in Kingsport, rather than trying to swim upstream trying to change Kingsport.
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Old 04-28-2018, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
https://drakescomeplay.com/

The Pinnacle in Bristol is getting a new restaurant concept kind of like a Dave and Buster's called Drake's. I've been to the one in Indianapolis when I lived there. This is the type of thing that could really give the Fort Henry Mall the boost it needs to get going, as it's more than just a restaurant, yet this is going to Bristol. This is another missed opportunity for Kingsport, but even if it had come to Kingsport, would the residents even support it? It just doesn't seem "culturally Kingsport."

Aubrey's, the Knoxville based chain, is finishing up a restaurant in Johnson City. This could have been another anchor type for the mall, but they chose to bypass Kingsport, and have instead located in both Bristol and Johnson City. I've seen other locally owned restaurants that probably would have succeeded in Johnson City fold in Kingsport over the years. Craft beer has really gotten going in Johnson City and Bristol, with each having several breweries. Kingsport has one small craft brewery that doesn't even sell its beer at retail or really distribute to other restaurants. That brewery is more of a concert venue and the beer seems secondary.

Kingsport residents are just not as open to new things, and I think that's becoming more evident over time as Johnson City and even Bristol continue to get new things and innovate to some extent.

I agree that if there was a market for some of this stuff, someone would have already taken the risk. Places like Aubrey's and Drake's are looking at cities to open their businesses and are increasingly bypassing Kingsport. Kingsport needs to find out the why and at least try to address why businesses are not choosing it.

I don't want to paint with too broad of a brush here, but by and large, the Millennials who remain in Kingsport tend to be more blue collar, less educated, etc., than Johnson City, at least that's how I see it in my social circle. I'm not as familiar with Bristol. Those typically aren't the people starting new businesses or really pushing the culture forward. Like you said, many of those folks are also stodgy and conservative, and will go with the Kingsport flow.

There definitely needs to be some new people and fresh perspectives introduced to Kingsport. The thing is that with Johnson City fairly close by, it's easy to just live there, even if you work in Kingsport, rather than trying to swim upstream trying to change Kingsport.
I see Drake's being built at the Pinnacle and it looks like a cool concept--eager to try it out once it opens up. The Pinnacle really does have great momentum going for it--it's sort of the "it" spot in the tri-cities right now for new development. I've also eaten at Aubrey's and that's a pretty good spot too for an original chain concept.

Kingsport does seem to be getting bypassed now regularly with new chains coming into the tri-cities. It's definitely become a trend the past few years, and is a very bad one for the city at that.

I don't think Kingsport has a "new hotspot" for development like Johnson City and Bristol (the Tennessee side). JC has State of Franklin road, a few areas around ETSU, and the mall. Bristol, TN side has the Pinnacle, which seems red hot with new development in terms of restaurants/bars/retail. Kingsport has the faded, unattractive and pretty dead Fort Henry Mall redevelopment, and the now-aging Kingsport Pavilion. The Pavilion was the hotspot for several years, but that has now pretty much ended--and some stores in that center are closing, unfortunately.

I do see a possible burgeoning of new development and hot spot activity in Kingsport on its west side at Allandale, in the Hawkins County city limits. There is a big new development going in there that looks unique and original. That area in general has always been growing slowly and over the past several years, development seems to have picked up with residential growth and now a couple of new retail developments. Time will tell to what extent new retail activity goes in there, but it probably won't be too huge or game changing, since there is existing retail at the Allandale shopping area, but eager to see what develops in that region.
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Old 04-28-2018, 11:19 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Originally Posted by jjbradleynyc View Post
I see Drake's being built at the Pinnacle and it looks like a cool concept--eager to try it out once it opens up. The Pinnacle really does have great momentum going for it--it's sort of the "it" spot in the tri-cities right now for new development. I've also eaten at Aubrey's and that's a pretty good spot too for an original chain concept.

Kingsport does seem to be getting bypassed now regularly with new chains coming into the tri-cities. It's definitely become a trend the past few years, and is a very bad one for the city at that.

I don't think Kingsport has a "new hotspot" for development like Johnson City and Bristol (the Tennessee side). JC has State of Franklin road, a few areas around ETSU, and the mall. Bristol, TN side has the Pinnacle, which seems red hot with new development in terms of restaurants/bars/retail. Kingsport has the faded, unattractive and pretty dead Fort Henry Mall redevelopment, and the now-aging Kingsport Pavilion. The Pavilion was the hotspot for several years, but that has now pretty much ended--and some stores in that center are closing, unfortunately.

I do see a possible burgeoning of new development and hot spot activity in Kingsport on its west side at Allandale, in the Hawkins County city limits. There is a big new development going in there that looks unique and original. That area in general has always been growing slowly and over the past several years, development seems to have picked up with residential growth and now a couple of new retail developments. Time will tell to what extent new retail activity goes in there, but it probably won't be too huge or game changing, since there is existing retail at the Allandale shopping area, but eager to see what develops in that region.
Kingsport hasn't gotten any new development since The Pavilion. IIRC, that's around ten years old now. It's just dated by now, and not in a good location.

West Kingsport is the poor end of town in general, especially if you include Lynn Garden. With the exception of Rotherwood, much of that end of town is poor. While there may be a new development (I rarely go past the river on Netherland Inn/Big Elm), it will likely be dollar store/discount type stuff. I can't see any middle class stuff going into that area.

Aubrey's is a "half-step" above a Cheddar's IMO, with a focus on locally sourced food, when available, and is a little more upscale in terms of food and price. That's just not "culturally Kingsport," which is why I think they've chosen a bit more dynamic environment.
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Old 04-29-2018, 10:31 PM
 
Location: Kingsport
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[quote=West Kingsport is the poor end of town in general, especially if you include Lynn Garden. With the exception of Rotherwood, much of that end of town is poor. While there may be a new development (I rarely go past the river on Netherland Inn/Big Elm), it will likely be dollar store/discount type stuff. I can't see any middle class stuff going into that area. [/QUOTE]

Look further west. Mount Carmel has the second highest median disposable income in the Tri-Cities, second only to Colonial Heights. But the area does have a weak retail reputation. One of the biggest issues is it has no convenient North/South ingress. Only time will tell if the new development at the former site of the armory will work out. The shopping center across the street is only partially filled, and the Wendy's that's also across the street folded. Of course, thing do change, but it's hard to overcome that part of town's soft retail history.
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Old 04-30-2018, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
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Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
Kingsport hasn't gotten any new development since The Pavilion. IIRC, that's around ten years old now. It's just dated by now, and not in a good location.

West Kingsport is the poor end of town in general, especially if you include Lynn Garden. With the exception of Rotherwood, much of that end of town is poor. While there may be a new development (I rarely go past the river on Netherland Inn/Big Elm), it will likely be dollar store/discount type stuff. I can't see any middle class stuff going into that area.

Aubrey's is a "half-step" above a Cheddar's IMO, with a focus on locally sourced food, when available, and is a little more upscale in terms of food and price. That's just not "culturally Kingsport," which is why I think they've chosen a bit more dynamic environment.
Yeah, Kingsport needs a shot in the arm with a new, vibrant area of development for retail/restaurant/bar. I think they were hoping Ft Henry would take off, but whoever is marketing that is not doing an effective job, unfortunately.

I do think downtown Kingsport development may be a potential solution for a future "hotspot." If leaders of the city could take advantage of the momentum from the new "luxury" apartments going up on supermarket row, and springboard with developing that old vacant Dobbins warehouse next door (incredible structure that would make an amazing live/work/bar-restaurant space), there could be some retail/bar/restaurant focus downtown.

Also, the college campus area that combines Northeast Tech, Millington and ETSU would be a terrific area for development of retail/restaurant to generate more traffic and more development in general there....the college and medical campuses that have been built downtown near the Domtar area and Kingsport's west side of downtown is the right direction to go in I think, for a city the size of Kingsport.
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Old 04-30-2018, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
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Originally Posted by Page2 View Post
Look further west. Mount Carmel has the second highest median disposable income in the Tri-Cities, second only to Colonial Heights. But the area does have a weak retail reputation. One of the biggest issues is it has no convenient North/South ingress. Only time will tell if the new development at the former site of the armory will work out. The shopping center across the street is only partially filled, and the Wendy's that's also across the street folded. Of course, thing do change, but it's hard to overcome that part of town's soft retail history.
Yeah, Mt Carmel area--and also folks in Church Hill--both have some disposable income retailers would be able to tap into, for sure.

Do you know what the development site at the Armory is going to be? It looks higher end that what I've seen going into Kingsport in a long time...I wonder if the fountains/nicer landscaping are just that, in order to dress up standard retail? I do know a Weigel's is going in there as well, closer to Stone Drive.
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