But while construction has yet to begin, the interchange project appears to have its first beneficiary: a $30 million investment to build a call center office complex that will house at least 1,200 employees.
During their Feb. 25 meeting, Washington County commissioners voted unanimously to approve a rezoning request for 26.52 acres at 281 Christian Church Road, close to the intersection of Boones Creek Road.
The property’s current owners, former County Commissioner Lynn Hodge and Dwight Hunt, wanted the property rezoned from an A-1 General Agricultural District to a B-3 General Commercial District to accomodate the call center.
“It would be a great asset to Washington County and the Boones Creek community, and I believe it will also act as a catalyst for the Boones Creek corridor. I think you’ll see many more structures coming that way as time goes on,” Hodge told the city’s Planning Commission.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, Hodge said he could not disclose the company’s name because of a confidentiality agreement he signed. Hodge also declined to clarify whether the company already has a presence in the city or not.
“The company was looking at other sites outside of Washington County, and so I was tickled (they came here),” Hodge said, later adding that the project has been in the works for several months.
John Holcomb, a project manager for Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., based in Charlotte, North Carolina, spoke to the Washington County Commission and Johnson City Regional Planning Commission on behalf of the “developer group.”
While addressing the city’s Planning Commission during its Feb. 12 meeting, Washington County Planning Director Angie Charles said there is also a possibility that Christian Church Road would be expanded to three lanes to accomodate employees going to and from call center.
“The largest shift on the call center’s rotation would be approximately 1,200 employees,” Charles said.
Based on the concept plan submitted as part of the rezoning request, the call center would be a three-story, 180,000 square-foot facility with a “great lawn” area, a loading area and a mechanical area.
Charles said a site plan will now have to be approved by the County Commission. During the city’s Planning Commission meeting, Holcomb said construction could start as early as this fall.
While giving his capital projects update to city commissioners at their March 7 meeting, Public Works Director Phil Pindzola explained the need for the $12.3 million Boones Creek Exit 17 project.
“Why is it important? Again, there are 2,000 vacant acres in the Boones Creek corridor. And 2,000 vacant acres based on type of use that we would project ... is about $1.5 billion of potential investment. And we’re not getting much because of the interchange as it exists today,” Pindzola said.
“It just is an inhibitor to good development in that area. Now, will it occur or not? I don’t have a clue. But I do know that, pretty much, it won’t occur if we don’t do something about it, and this is the project.”
The Tennessee Department of Transportation will close bidding March 29 on the Boones Creek exit project, with construction beginning roughly eight weeks later.