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Old 11-26-2016, 10:53 PM
 
Location: Johnson City, TN
667 posts, read 843,904 times
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https://donfenley.com/2016/11/26/kin...people-a-year/

I'd just like to get everyone's opinion on this. Kingsport's goal of adding 500 residents per year seems fairly dubious considering the 2014-2015 growth statistics show Washington County with nearly all the region's growth. The individual city numbers coming in the next couple weeks should be even more revealing.

Even more troubling for Kingsport is the fact that the city has had a very aggressive PR campaign for a number of years now combined with such things as the construction of the aquatic center, extending the greenbelt, and providing incentives to homebuilders. Essentially all of Kingsport's "growth" since 2010 has come from annexation and not from people actually moving into the city. All of this is coupled with the fact that Johnson City (unfortunately) does little in the way of advertising, has a horrendous website, and has a reputation among developers for being very bureaucratic and difficult to work with but yet still manages to be the city of choice for those moving to the region.

It strikes me as extremely odd that the leadership of Kingsport thinks the reason Johnson City is seeing population growth is its perceived better quality housing stock and recreational amenities. I'd argue that Kingsport's greenbelt, aquatic center, and YMCA beat what JC has to offer. It's the demographics that drive the growth in JC and Kingsport's history as a mill town and one that still relies on manufacturing for its survival cannot compete with a city that has an economy built on education and healthcare.

In the end, the numbers still point to Johnson City becoming the focus city and economic driver of Northeast TN. I feel like the sooner the rest of the region accepts and supports this the better off we'll be but unfortunately I don't see that happening any time soon and the entire region suffers as a result.
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Old 11-27-2016, 09:01 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
29,333 posts, read 22,161,829 times
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It's overly optimistic to the point of being delusional.

Yes, if you look strictly at population growth, then Kingsport keeps growing with the annexation. However, the annexation patterns make nearly no sense. I have a family member with a business near the airport, and if he isn't annexed already, there is a sign literally a couple hundred yards from the business. The "growth" is incoherent. The city limits stretch from up there down to Hawkins County. Stupid.

I live and work in Kingsport, and I'm a YMCA/Aquatic Center member. I really do like the Aquatic Center, but keep in mind that other than swim festivals and the summer season, it seems to do little business. The YMCA is fine, but considering it is fairly new construction, there are some pretty bad omissions (no hot tub, sauna, steam room, towel service) that the fifty year old Bristol YMCA has, much less other Y's I've used in other cities. I use the Green Belt a few times a week, but it's a take it or leave it thing for me. I don't think the amenities you listed are big deterrents.

I think the Kingsport officials are partly right that dining, shopping, and housing stock are to blame, but even improving all that is not going to fix Kingsport. I like to go out for brunch/good breakfast once on the weekends. Other than the Panera Bread, nothing resembling a healthy breakfast - Subway doesn't sell breakfast at the Food City or Stone Drive locations. Other than the one Aldi, the dumpy Kroger, and the Ingles at the edge of town, Kingsport has nothing but Food City and Walmart in the main grocery segment. Forget anything higher end - it's not here. For non-chain decent dining, you have Giuseppe's and Rush Street - most everything else is a chain or some greasy spoon. Kingsport's housing stock in the city proper is generally cheaper than JC, but there are fewer options as it's mostly the tiny 40s/50s area SFHs and many need A LOT of work. I may be looking to buy my first home next year, and I'm not even considering Kingsport for a number of reasons, even though it would be the most convenient for me.

Kingsport has basically sealed its fate hooking itself to Eastman at the hip. There really is no replacement for Eastman, not only in Kingsport, but the overall area, so rocking the boat isn't an option. People who want more urban living in this region (a small contingent) are not going to like Kingsport's current offerings, nor will improving dining and housing stock negate the unsightly Eastman/Domtar. You're not going to be able to slap some lipstick on the pig that is the urban core's housing stock and make anyone like it. The city needs a full scale overhaul that it can't do to be viable for the 21st century.

They may be able to annex their way to this level of growth but it's certainly not coming organically.
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Old 11-27-2016, 10:21 PM
 
Location: Seattle
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FYI the State Legislature has basically stopped the annexation process without citizens' referendum.
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Old 11-28-2016, 06:55 AM
 
Location: Gray, TN
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Nothing wrong with having goals. Seems like the consensus on here is that Bristol/Kingsport should just quit trying. I'm not sure their residents would care for that.
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Old 11-28-2016, 07:33 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
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If they've stopped the essentially blanket annexation, then I don't see how they're going to get anywhere close to 500 a year.

People don't want Kingsport and Bristol to give up, but there is just a realization that Kingsport especially is relatively disadvantaged and well behind Johnson City and even Bristol at this point. The area as a whole is not big enough for three cities to compete - they need to cooperate to get what resources they can. Sadly, most people on the street around here are largely oblivious to the fact that well-paying jobs and amenities are consolidating in major metro areas. If we divide the area, we are going to get even fewer "nice things" than we would otherwise have gotten.

Kingsport's problems, IMO, are largely a result of the factories in town. Let's face it - Kingsport's desirability is always going to be handicapped with these belching smokestacks and odors, but it can't do anything about that. I agree that they're probably doing fine with what they have but the ceiling is limited.
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:54 PM
 
Location: Johnson City, TN
667 posts, read 843,904 times
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https://donfenley.com/2016/12/15/joh...local-economy/

This drills down to the city level and not surprisingly, after viewing the county data, Johnson City is the only locale in the region to see meaningful growth. I was thinking more about his and I can honestly see how Kingsport's leadership has to be frustrated by these numbers considering the money sunk into quality of life improvement and amenities. Kingsport has the greenbelt, a very nice hotel/resort and conference center in Meadowview, the regions only aquatic center, along with Bays Mountain and Warriors Path parks and don't forget the carousel and farmers market pavilion. Kingsport's downtown is quite large and very well laid out and the city has a slick new website and loads of attractive signage around town. All of this arguably exceeds what Johnson City offers and yet Kingsport is still can't manage any growth. What gives? What else can be done?

I've seen the OneKingsport proposals and much of it is essentially a rehash of what has already been done: build quality of life infrastructure and hope that makes the community more attractive to outsiders. But how is that different that what has already been done? Is there anything the city can do to make itself more desirable than Johnson City to those moving to the region for work or retirement?
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Old 12-19-2016, 08:05 AM
 
Location: Gray, TN
2,172 posts, read 4,018,442 times
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Fair or unfair, I think the stigma of "the smell" holds Kingsport back more than any other single factor.


What can be done? The big swing and miss was the Pinnacle. That development should have been at the Crossings --- to the benefit of all of the TriCities.

1. They need to revitalize their indoor mall.
2. They need a visionary type development at the Crossings.
3. They need the region's top movie theater.
4. Continue the progress downtown, it's working. Vacancy rates downtown are plummeting.
5. Don't do anymore stupid deals with Eastman unless there are clawbacks... in case they don't hold up their end of the bargain.
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Old 12-19-2016, 08:51 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Ultimately, I don't know what else Kingsport can do.

1) Subsidizing private "amusement" type entities like the YMCA is not the answer. The YMCA/Aquatic Center are nice and are definitely the best option in town, but something like that is a small part of the overall town's health. It is not a bedrock to build around, but a side amenity once you get the core things (jobs, quality retail) down pat. Kingsport does not have those things down pat.

2) The ship has sailed on the movie theater/Pinnacle type development. I think the Pinnacle's theater was a $12 million project. I saw Star Wars there Friday night and hadn't been in their "extreme cinema" before, and it was the nicest theater I've been in. That type of theater is something that is typically found in larger metros - it was busy, but nowhere near "slammed." I don't think each of our little towns can support that.

3) I also think the mall is too far gone and The Pinnacle is too far ahead, in terms of retail quality and having adjusted behavior patterns, for the mall to come back to what it was. Malls are struggling everywhere. Mismanaged malls, in towns that are themselves struggling, are basically doomed.

As for downtown, maybe it's just me, but even as a Kingsport resident, I almost never go downtown voluntarily. If I go out to a fine dinner, it is to Johnson City or Bristol. I've been to Portico, Label, and Basq on dates since I've been back. I'm going to try and get to Sabores Friday night if it's open. I've been to Sleepy Owl, but both JC and Bristol have better breweries. I'm not a Stir Fry fan.

Kingsport has nothing like any of the unique restaurants. That's not even counting Tupelo Honey, the national chains in JC/Bristol that Kingsport doesn't have (Outback, Logan's, Mellow Mushroom come to mind), and places like Main St. Pizza and Scratch. Kingsport's best options are Giuseppe's and Chop House. Kingsport has all but lost my retail and "finer dining" dollar.

I'm not sure if The Crossings will ever go anywhere, but I think a Costco and maybe something higher end like a Macy's or Dillard's there could really help move the needle.

I would personally like to see more tech-friendly development, like city wide fiber like what Chattanooga has. But then again, will infrastructure like that pay for itself in Kingsport? Subsidies and incentives to these light manufacturing facilities that have cycled in and out haven't paid off - look at what the various incarnations of the glass plant have done.

Kingsport needs younger leadership and ultimately people who have lived other places to bring in fresh ideas. Out of my immediate family and closest friends, not one has lived outside of the Tri-Cities, unless they were in the military or college. There is a lot of "idea inbreeding" in Kingsport you don't see as much of in JC, and probably Bristol.
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Old 12-19-2016, 01:45 PM
 
Location: Seattle
6,514 posts, read 14,872,926 times
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Quote:
3) I also think the mall is too far gone and The Pinnacle is too far ahead, in terms of retail quality and having adjusted behavior patterns, for the mall to come back to what it was. Malls are struggling everywhere. Mismanaged malls, in towns that are themselves struggling, are basically doomed.
I agree. The Kingsport Mall needs to be imagined and re-integrated into the City. The basis of that development would be connecting the parcel into the street grid of the City and zoning the area for multiple uses in close combination, such as apartments, townhomes, or small single-family homes, along with smaller-scale retail. That's a long-term project, but Kingsport has nothing but time and not much to lose.

Here's one idea to illustrate what I mean. The red is streets.



Also, doesn't Kingsport have a Main Street Pizza?
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Old 12-19-2016, 02:20 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
29,333 posts, read 22,161,829 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jabogitlu View Post
I agree. The Kingsport Mall needs to be imagined and re-integrated into the City. The basis of that development would be connecting the parcel into the street grid of the City and zoning the area for multiple uses in close combination, such as apartments, townhomes, or small single-family homes, along with smaller-scale retail. That's a long-term project, but Kingsport has nothing but time and not much to lose.

Here's one idea to illustrate what I mean. The red is streets.

Also, doesn't Kingsport have a Main Street Pizza?
I think it does have the pizza shop, but I'm rarely down there to care.

I honestly wouldn't mind to see the whole property go at this point. The Penney's and Belk in there are old and small compared to Johnson City and Bristol, and there just isn't enough in the rest of the mall to warrant stopping in.

Maybe that concept could bring in some smaller, boutique style shops and restaurants. There was a mixed use facility like that with retail on the bottom floor and apartments on the upper floors like that near one of my offices in Indianapolis that did well. There was a boutique burger joint in one of the stores, a small gym, and a Ruth Chris as the anchor. Obviously we are not going to get a Ruth Chris but even something like a Chipotle or casual diner with an apartment level above that might work.
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