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Old 01-17-2017, 08:23 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
6,706 posts, read 10,132,210 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rccrain View Post
It was Friday night when I was there and it seemed like a Tuesday. Little traffic, no lines. The whole place already seems a little dated.

Old Navy is already out and sitting empty. Does Panda Express really need to be at the Pinnacle and the Pavillion?
You have to remember that the Pavilion is primarily drawing retail customers from Kingsport, Hawkins County and Scott Counties in Virginia. In addition, Kingsport has always been a retail draw for rural Appalachian counties in Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky and extreme southern West Virginia.

While the Pinnacle is drawing customers from Bristol TN and VA and other rural VA counties.

There is plenty of retail customer traffic to support both developments, easily. In general though, both developments are dated in terms of style and location choice--more of a mid-1990s retail development for both: outskirts of the cities, large big-box stores, huge parking lots, and generic "modern" architecture.

Both developments are built for short-term gain, without the long-term view of planning or city infrastructure well-being given much thought at all.
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Old 01-17-2017, 08:40 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
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I think in general, the Tri-Cities region's future varies, depending on the city being discussed.

With Johnson City, the future is bright. With ETSU and its medical school, the VA Hospital and younger demographic, these factors all combine to allow JC to grow at a faster pace in terms of population and development than the other two tri-cities. With little reliance on just one industry, JC is going to lead the tri-cities in growth and overall growing demographics.

Kingsport has some challenges overall. Since they rely on the Eastman, mostly solely, their economic base needs to diversify greatly. Some bright spots downtown in the past 5, 6 years have been good, with the construction of the medical offices, the Food City-anchored Kingsport Press shopping center downtown, and the small UT/ETSU/Northeast State campus that located downtown. The downtown is tight, dense and has great momentum. I think Kingsport needs to focus on building this out more, by focusing on retail, bars/restaurants, apartments and industry locating here. Rely less on traditional manufacturing and attempt to lure in service industry. Retirees moving to area are keys to growth.

Bristol is in a good spot as well. I think they need to focus on diversifying their economy as well, and tourism with the Bristol Motor Speedway and "the twin cities of Bristol VA/TN" and "origin of country music" can serve the city well with promotion for tourists and just to be on people's radar nationally. The area can be a continued draw for retirees as well and must continue to build up their inner-city and downtown, as opposed to sprawling development.
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Old 01-17-2017, 10:13 AM
 
Location: A Yankee in northeast TN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjbradleynyc View Post
Retirees moving to area are keys to growth.
This is a really beautiful area with a climate that is very attractive to a lot of retirees, this is something all three cities should work on together to bring people in. I have always thought there was huge potential here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjbradleynyc View Post
Bristol is in a good spot as well. I think they need to focus on diversifying their economy as well, and tourism with the Bristol Motor Speedway and "the twin cities of Bristol VA/TN" and "origin of country music" can serve the city well with promotion for tourists and just to be on people's radar nationally. The area can be a continued draw for retirees as well and must continue to build up their inner-city and downtown, as opposed to sprawling development.
Over the last several weeks I've talked to quite a few people traveling on vacation who have mentioned they have taken a little side trip to downtown Bristol to see where the geico gecko commercial was filmed. Funny reason to visit, but whatever it takes right?
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Old 01-17-2017, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Seattle
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Quote:
This is a really beautiful area with a climate that is very attractive to a lot of retirees, this is something all three cities should work on together to bring people in. I have always thought there was huge potential here.
I agree, and I think this could be a great pilot program for all three convention/visitors bureaus to work together.
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Old 01-17-2017, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
6,706 posts, read 10,132,210 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DubbleT View Post
This is a really beautiful area with a climate that is very attractive to a lot of retirees, this is something all three cities should work on together to bring people in. I have always thought there was huge potential here.

Over the last several weeks I've talked to quite a few people traveling on vacation who have mentioned they have taken a little side trip to downtown Bristol to see where the geico gecko commercial was filmed. Funny reason to visit, but whatever it takes right?
Yeah, retirees moving to the area is a key boost potentially. I know of quite a few that are friends with my parents. My uncle and his wife moved to Church Hill, TN from Indiana about 5 years ago, and he has 2 other couple friends who moved to TN from Indiana as well.

The area offers beautiful views, mild winters, cheap housing and expenses, many things to do, and is centrally located to the south, east, and midwest.
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:55 AM
 
Location: Gray, TN
2,157 posts, read 3,950,117 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjbradleynyc View Post

There is plenty of retail customer traffic to support both developments, easily.
I seriously doubt that. America as a whole is over-retailed. Kingsport is over-retailed to an extent above the national average. My intuition based on folks I know that live in Kingsport is that they would rather bypass The Pavilion and spend their weekend at The Pinnacle. I think that is backed up by the lack of foot traffic that I observed on a Friday evening. I didn't see enough business at Panda Express to pay the employees, much less the rent. Restaurants and businesses should be bustling, but they were mostly empty. An earlier poster mentioned lunch traffic for the restaurants; I guess that's plausible, but when I worked in Kingsport, there was no way I was driving all the way to the outskirts of town for lunch. Who has time for a 90 minute lunch break?
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Old 01-19-2017, 04:00 PM
 
Location: Johnson City, TN
667 posts, read 821,004 times
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A strategic business mindset can turn Kingsport around | Dave Clark Commentary

This is a really good write-up on Kingsport's current woes and what the city needs to do to move forward. It touches on what I've been saying for awhile; Kingsport needs to quit trying to compete with Johnson City and form its own identity. The obsession with growth has long-term negative consequences.
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Old 01-20-2017, 04:07 AM
 
Location: Roanoke, VA
1,805 posts, read 3,539,964 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DubbleT View Post

Over the last several weeks I've talked to quite a few people traveling on vacation who have mentioned they have taken a little side trip to downtown Bristol to see where the geico gecko commercial was filmed. Funny reason to visit, but whatever it takes right?
My husband and I did that on Monday. We were visiting the area from Newport News, VA. The train station looks beautiful, but does anything happen there? I realize Monday was a federal holiday.

I was very enthusiastic about visiting State St. in Bristol and was somewhat disappointed. There were empty store fronts (at least they looked empty), businesses that looked like they were struggling and a few folks walking around who looked very down on their luck.

We were in the area for less than two days and stayed in Abingdon. I hope to see more of Bristol when we are able to return. The area overall is beautiful.
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Old 01-20-2017, 06:07 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TN Lily View Post
My husband and I did that on Monday. We were visiting the area from Newport News, VA. The train station looks beautiful, but does anything happen there? I realize Monday was a federal holiday.

I was very enthusiastic about visiting State St. in Bristol and was somewhat disappointed. There were empty store fronts (at least they looked empty), businesses that looked like they were struggling and a few folks walking around who looked very down on their luck.

We were in the area for less than two days and stayed in Abingdon. I hope to see more of Bristol when we are able to return. The area overall is beautiful.
I don't think anything is going on at the train station now. Bristol is in a state of flux right now. Other than the downtown and the retail developments along the interstate, much of the core city is very much struggling. Downtown has significantly improved over where it was ten or even five years ago, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

I agree about the homeless/vagrant population. It does seem a bit out of control. I went to a bar in downtown Bristol last week, and there was a woman carrying a lot of baggage (literally) that was talking to an ATM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangerred View Post
A strategic business mindset can turn Kingsport around | Dave Clark Commentary

This is a really good write-up on Kingsport's current woes and what the city needs to do to move forward. It touches on what I've been saying for awhile; Kingsport needs to quit trying to compete with Johnson City and form its own identity. The obsession with growth has long-term negative consequences.
I read this last night on my phone when Don Fenley shared it on Facebook. I agree that simply cutting Kingsport's "price" is not the answer. The glass plant and other small manufacturer subsidies, only to leave the area in a few years or outright fail, is the best example of this.

The mall property tax abatement is another stupid move. The mall, as we've known it, is failing. The time to have done something about it was five to ten years ago. At this point, shoppers and businesses have moved on, either moving to other areas town (Pavilion) or have moved out of the city totally (Pinnacle). Behavior has changed and reshaping it is going to be nearly impossible.

Take a look at the YMCA and Aquatic Center. I think the location is an issue, but the facility also has other problems. Why didn't the city work with the YMCA to build a hot tub, sauna, and steam room at the site? Why does the Y not offer towel service? Why are the locker rooms so small that patrons are basically on top of each other using half-height lockers?

The fifty year old Bristol Y has most of these things and a much better layout. IMO, these omissions and errors would not have cost that much more to implement, but would have made the new gym a Tri-Cities wide attraction for fitness enthusiasts. It could have been something like a flagship Lifetime Fitness. When in town, many of those people would have bought something. Instead, we have a gym that was poorly thought through and only a nominal improvement on the other Kingsport facilities. It's emblematic of the not thinking further than the end of your nose so common in Kingsport.

With that digression out of the way, Dave is completely right on Kingsport probably having to "settle for less" in regard to Johnson City. That train has essentially left the station. However, the structural trends were not in Kingsport's favor in hindsight. Kingsport doesn't have the university, and had closed ETSU at Kingsport last I heard. When Eastman and Domtar were built years ago, my guess is that at least Eastman was on the then far periphery of the city. As things filled in to be more convenient to the job site, that was fine at the time, but as time went on and those developments aged, you ended up with a bunch of rough looking businesses and home in the shadow of a factory. The shift away from manufacturing was largely out of Kingsport's control, but Kingsport has also done little to mitigate that.

Johnson City has historically not been as reliant on manufacturing, had alternate sources of employment, and was not a company town. While Kingsport may have been the flagship during the heyday of manufacturing, as that has staggered along, the city has declined. It also doesn't help that Kingsport is closer to Hawkins County and southwest VA - poorer, rural areas that are largely dysfunctional.

I think a possible alternative is to try build more "mini urban centers," away from the belching smokestacks of Domtar. Connect these retail developments by sidewalk to existing homes and neighborhoods. Bays Mountain could potentially be a significant asset for younger people who value the outdoors, but feels underutilized.

He's also right about the increasing clustering of businesses and well-to-do people in middle TN. A workout buddy of mine from high school went to UT-K, went to pharmacy school at ETSU, worked in Knoxville as a pharmacist, but ultimately moved to metro Nashville because of the better pay. Personally, I wouldn't want to live there unless it was a major career improvement for me, due to price and traffic, but he loves it, and so do many others. Much of the rest of the state, probably including Knoxville and Chattanooga, are feeling that "pull" from Nashville, to their detriment. I think that's going to be felt more around here as there is little going on compared to Knoxville and Chattanooga, and ultimately, I think little reason to locate here over those two metros.

Last edited by Serious Conversation; 01-20-2017 at 06:40 AM..
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Old 01-20-2017, 12:04 PM
 
Location: A Yankee in northeast TN
12,336 posts, read 15,913,452 times
Reputation: 29721
Quote:
Originally Posted by TN Lily View Post
My husband and I did that on Monday. We were visiting the area from Newport News, VA. The train station looks beautiful, but does anything happen there? I realize Monday was a federal holiday.

I was very enthusiastic about visiting State St. in Bristol and was somewhat disappointed. There were empty store fronts (at least they looked empty), businesses that looked like they were struggling and a few folks walking around who looked very down on their luck.

We were in the area for less than two days and stayed in Abingdon. I hope to see more of Bristol when we are able to return. The area overall is beautiful.
To me Bristol's downtown is teeny tiny. And Bristol itself is not a 'manicured' city like Abingdon, it definitely has a more blue collar, rough around the edges kind of vibe to it, especially if you only see the main streets.

There is a mission for the homeless downtown and a storefront church that 'feeds the souls and bellies' of the homeless not far from downtown, as is the bus station, so I'm not really surprised you'd see a few vagrants there. For what it's worth I have never felt unsafe downtown, neither has my daughter or her friends and they used to spend quite a bit of time there at night.
There are a few businesses that aren't doing so well, but most of the time downtown stays pretty busy and seems to be thriving IMO. Monday being a holiday had a noticable impact on business where I worked so I would guess downtown was probably was quite a bit slower than normal too. Traffic was a lot lighter for sure.

The train station is more of a rental venue rather than a public use space. Bristol Train Station
Here is a link to Bristol's best 'what is there to do' site if you're thinking about a visit to get to know a little more about it. Believe in Bristol, Historic Downtown TN / VA


~and because I know certain posters have mentioned loft living before I am going to post this list I found
*505 State Street, Bristol, VA – Above The Distressed Gentleman
*507-509 State Street, Bristol, VA – Old Heller Brothers Lofts Unit 1 – Above Phyl’s of Bristol/Studio 6
*502-504 State Street, Bristol, TN – Above former Shelbee’s Vintage Café
*29 ½ Sixth Street, Bristol, TN – Above Mountain Empire Comics/Bridgeforth Design Studio
*623 State Street, Bristol, VA – Above Cranberry Lane
*818 State Street, Bristol, TN – Above Kil’n Time Ceramic Studio
*201-205 Eighth Street, Bristol, TN – The Remington, Future 10 Unit Loft Project in Progress
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