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Kingsport - Johnson City - Bristol The Tri-Cities area
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Old 02-14-2020, 09:10 AM
Location: Gray, TN
2,163 posts, read 3,963,570 times
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Maybe the typical Kingsport citizen can't afford it but there should be enough young people that can afford it between Eastman and the Medical facilities to fill the place. You just have to convince them that downtown is where they want to be. That's the harder part.
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:06 AM
Location: Brooklyn, NY
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Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
I lived there for about six months. One thing that you don't immediately notice when looking around is how big of a pain it is to get stuff in from the parking lot to the upper levels. The huge building really makes it difficult to get "a load" of stuff from Walmart or similar. It's a lot of carrying.

Sure, the pool is nice, but if Domtar is in full smell mode, no one wants to be outside in that. I agree that they are big city in terms of finish and what they're aiming to do, but there is very little of that demographic in this area, and what there is of it isn't in Kingsport.

I think they are only about 30%-40% occupied. Many of the ones that are leased are by Eastman as corporate housing. My guess is that between the high vacancy rate and Eastman leasing quite a few units, that there are really no more than a few dozen regular tenants.

A 1BR at $840 or whatever they start out at now is a high mark for the area. It's an even higher mark for Kingsport. Most jobs outside of Eastman and Ballad don't pay enough to afford the rent. Those who can afford the rent can often buy for much less. For the handful of people who CAN afford the rent and WANT to rent, they're proabbly younger, more transient, more educated, etc., and would be better served living in JC anyway.

I left specifically because of how little there is to do in Kingsport. My office is there, but aside from Planet Fitness and maybe a twice a month Main St./Model City Tap House after work, I'm out of Kingsport as soon as the shift is over.
Oh, that's right, you did mention you lived there. The leasing agent said there were 3 and 6 month leases available.

I could see that. The hallways are HUGE--and long. If you live on the 4th floor all the way at the end it would be incredibly hard to haul up groceries or purchases. I could see that being a challenge, all the time.

The 30-40% number makes sense, and I bet that is generous. I would bet maybe 25-30%.

The price point is high for Kingsport--for a rental. Most folks moving to Kingsport are definitely buying a house, or renting one. These offer good options, but do not cater to people living here already, as much as trying to syphon off ETSU students or people relocating.

As we have all said, yep, that's totally it. There is a tiny handful of things to do for anyone single or coupled with no kids, under 50 years old.

It was a risk for Kingsport to take on, and unless it starts to drive new restaurant/bar/retail or other new building developments in the area, it won't be considered a successful project really.
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:10 AM
Location: Brooklyn, NY
6,926 posts, read 10,229,103 times
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Originally Posted by rccrain View Post
I don't see it as a waste of money. I doubt there was much property tax being collected on those properties which were abandoned. The development will improve the value of the surrounding properties.

In many ways Kingsport's downtown is nicer than JC's. It has better small shops and better non-alcohol centric restaurants. It's easier to walk and park. It has the best bagel place in the state of TN. Kingsport was the first of the TriCities to give a crap about their downtown. They have the best Young Professionals Group which is well organized, funded, and attended. Let's check the boxes for downtown Kpt: good housing, walkable Churches, nice walkable Grocery store, 10+ good restaurants, enough parking, small shops, professional offices, reasonable rents, fair and reasonably enforced building codes.

Many of the criticisms of Kingsport are valid, but they are largely things leadership can do nothing about. You can't stop old people from being old. You can't demo the industries that cause "the smell". The only big screwup I can recall was not supporting Steve Taylor more in recruiting BassPro.
Downtown Kingsport absolutely has the best layout in the tri-cities, the best density, and the best walkability. Seeing that it was planned, the city leaders did a great job setting out the original model for downtown.

It is a super quaint downtown and is actually pretty aesthetically pleasing in a lot of areas. There is minimal blight downtown and hardly any vacant lots. There are a few parking lots that could be developed, and I think that will happen over time. Problem is, it smells at times and is too dead beyond several restaurants and 2 or 3 bars.

As compared to Bristol, Kingsport's downtown is a bit bigger and more dense, but Bristol's is livelier at certain times during the evening for sure. Johnson City's is livelier as well, but their downtown is rough around the edges and a lot smaller than it should be for a city its size. There's a bit of vacancies and some blighted buildings needing developed in downtown JC.

The Domtar paper mill is probably the biggest "negative," but those are good paying jobs and good industry for the city, so unless it goes out of business, it is part of the fabric of Kingsport, for better or worse.
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