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Developers draft plan for mixed-use project in Boones Creek tourism district

David Floyd • Sep 3, 2019 at 8:00 PM

A mixed-use development with room for multiple restaurants, a 150,000-square-foot wholesale retail space, a minimum of one hotel and 212,000 square feet of residential space could be one of the larger projects coming to the Boones Creek corridor off Interstate 26.

Johnson City officials have seen a preliminary plan for a project proposed within the yet-to-be-defined boundaries of the regional retail tourism development district in Boones Creek. The development would sit on roughly 100 acres of property sandwiched between Boones Creek Road and Bart Green Drive.

Mark Larkey, who created the plans along with a development group that includes Joe Wilson, Bryan Sangid, Bucky Mabe and Clarence Mabe, said in a prepared statement on Tuesday that he and his partners believe “it’s time to admit the retail playbook is broken.”

“We are creating a new playbook that produces developments that are experiential, innovative and less traditional,” he said. “We are creating a gathering place for the region located in Johnson City. We know where retail is headed, and have the experience in the experiential retail market to make it happen.”

Larkey said the group has experienced success in these types of developments in other parts of the United States, including Branson, Orlando and Pigeon Forge.

“We want to do this in our home town of Johnson City,” he said.

Wilson and Sangid both work at The Brokers Realty, and Larkey, Bucky Mabe and Bucky’s father, Clarence Mabe, are all part of the leadership team at FACE Amusement.

Preston Mitchell, the development services director for the city, said the preliminary plans for the development have not been formally submitted to the city for consideration. He said Friday, Aug. 30, was the first time he had seen them.

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Preliminary Plan by David Floyd on Scribd

The proposed development still needs to go through the normal city approval processes, and because the project would be within the development district, the developers would have to enter into a contract with the city to receive incentives.

A piece of legislation passed by the state General Assembly and signed into law by the governor in May authorizes the city to draw the boundaries for, at most, a 950-acre development district that officials hope will spawn a project similar to the Pinnacle in Bristol. The law narrowly tailors the allowable location of the district, requiring that the city place it on property around Exit 17 off Interstate 26, a portion of the highway that the state is investing millions of dollars in improving.

The city is still in the process of determining the precise boundaries of the district, which the City Commission still needs to approve and the state will have to certify.

City Manager Pete Peterson said last week that the city hopes to have the district boundaries approved by the City Commission within the next 45 days.

Over a 30-year period, according to the statute, 75% of state sales and use tax revenue collected in the district beyond baseline tax revenues would be reinvested in the development district.

Peterson said that revenue will come back to the city, which will then reimburse developers through the Industrial Development Board. He said the incentive will be composed entirely of state money.

“This is a great opportunity to enhance quality of life and shopping and entertainment opportunities in Johnson City and the region,” Peterson said. “Equally or more importantly is the fact that this project will create hundreds of new jobs.”

As a whole, Peterson said the retail tourism development district will be a big boost for Johnson City and the region.

“It’s a huge shot in the arm for the local economy,” he said.

Draft Development Map by David Floyd on Scribd

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