BRISTOL, TN - Legendary outdoorsman Bill Dance, NASCAR team owner Richard Childress and Sprint Cup driver Jamie McMurray were among the dignitaries when Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris and Bristol businessman Steve Johnson celebrated the start of the construction of the retailer’s newest store – at Exit 74 off Interstate 81.
The fanfare at the Friday ceremony capped a hectic period that saw Johnson and Bass Pro Sports reach agreement on the deal a mere two weeks before the digging began in the planned retail development that will be called The Pinnacle.
"I can’t think of a better place I’d want to be than Bristol, Tenn.," said Morris, who currently operates 58 Bass Pro Shops across the U.S. and Canada – making the Missouri-based chain the nation’s largest outdoors retailer.
Added Morris: “It’s so exciting for us to have a store in Thunder Valley.”
Johnson, who landed Bass Pro Sports as an anchor tenant for The Pinnacle, called the groundbreaking “a great day” for the city.
“We’re not only the home of the world’s fastest half-mile [race] track,” Johnson said, “we’re also now the home of the world’s fastest Bass Pro Shops deal in history.”
Upon opening, sometime in late 2013 or early 2014, the 100,000-square-foot store is expected to employ 250 to 300 people, according to Bass Pro Shop officials. Developers expect it to be a key draw for the 400-acre retail development project Johnson is developing at that exit.
Also among the estimated 200 people gathered for the event were a slew of local, state and regional elected, community and business figures.
Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a state senator from Blountville who attended the event, said The Pinnacle offers good prospects for the area.
“This is [going to be] the first of many groundbreakings,” he said.
The event included the delivery of ceremonial shovels by a race car and a lavish post-ceremony fish fry.
It also occurred just days after neighboring Bristol, Va., announced that the city had reached agreement with national outdoors retailer Cabela’s to build an 80,000-square-foot store in The Falls – an estimated $200 million, three-phrase, retail-development project off Interstate 81’s Exit 5 – just five miles down the road from The Pinnacle.
Cabela’s, which has 38 stores across the United States and Canada, is expected to break ground on its Bristol site during the summer of 2013 and open by October 2014. The Exit 5 store is expected to employ some 170 people, according to Bristol, Va., city estimates.
East Tennessee State University economics professor Steb Hipple, who has won national acclaim for his work analyzing the Tri-Cities economy, said Friday that while Bass Pro Shops should enjoy an advantage by opening its Bristol, Tenn., store sooner than Cabela’s Bristol, Va., site – and by already having a larger share of the national outdoors market – there are real questions about how either could truly thrive with a competitor so close.
“It’s very unusual to have two major [outdoors] stores in such close proximity,” Hipple said. “It will be interesting to see if there’s actually enough new business to sustain both stores – or both property developments [The Pinnacle and The Falls], for that matter. I’m skeptical, frankly.”
But during Friday’s ceremony, Johnson – who briefly fought back tears while recalling how he intensely lobbied Morris to locate a Bass Pro Shops store in Bristol – said that Bass is a perfect first tenant for The Pinnacle because of the retailer’s proven ability to consistently draw massive numbers of shoppers.
Noting that a Bass Pro Shops store averages 2 million visitors a year, Johnson likened the store’s potential local economic impact to that provided by Bristol Motor Speedway, which seats 160,000 spectators.
“It would be like having a packed Bristol Motor Speedway [in Bristol] once a month each year,” year after year, Johnson said of Bass’ traditional store traffic.
Morris was equally upbeat about his company’s potential to draw huge numbers of future customers to the Exit 74 location. Pointing to figures that rank the Tri-Cities region as the 70th largest retail market in America, Morris said, “When you look at the concentration of people [in the Tri-Cities market] who like to hunt and fish, it’s a very significant amount. So everyone in our company is grateful to be here.” Learn more
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The Pinnacle commercial development is effectively doubling in size, after developer Steve Johnson completed the purchase of adjoining land in Washington County, Va.
Johnson and Pinnacle Partners LLC paid $3.14 million to Henard Enterprises Inc. for the remainder of the former Bristol West property, which will join about 200 acres he has been developing near Interstate 81's Exit 74 in Bristol, Tenn.
"Occupying two states and covering 500 acres, this has evolved into the super regional development that had always been envisioned. It will serve Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, western North Carolina and eastern Kentucky. It is the largest development of its kind currently in the country," Johnson told the Bristol Herald Courier Thursday.
The Virginia portion extends from the Tennessee line and Bristol West Boulevard -- just behind the Tennessee welcome center -- eastward to Miller Hill Road near Gate City Highway and Interstate 81's Exit 1, according to records on file with the Washington County, Va., Circuit Court Clerk's Office.
"As planned from this project's inception, I have purchased or have agreements to purchase all of the land necessary for phase two of The Pinnacle project," Johnson said. "This allows The Pinnacle to be accessed from both Highway 11 in Tennessee and the Gate City Highway by way of Miller Hill Road in Virginia."
The Virginia portion is expected to include additional retail, a state-of-the-art 7,000-seat amphitheater, recreation areas, professional, medical and multi-family residential development, Johnson said.
Contractors are currently moving about 2 million cubic yards of dirt and rock to prepare the Tennessee portion of the site for new shopping, dining and entertainment businesses.
"Bass Pro is on track to open in the early spring of 2014 and the Belk-anchored complex will open in early spring of 2015," he said. "The Tennessee property is mostly committed. We were committed to fulfilling the project in Tennessee first. There are some retailers who want to be part of The Pinnacle that we don't have room for and some retailers who want to be in Virginia."
Besides Bass Pro Shops and Belk -- the only named tenants -- Johnson said he has commitments for an additional 500,000 square feet of tenant space in Tennessee. The Virginia segment has more land that can be easily developed, he added.
"I know the public is anxious to know who is coming and we will make those announcements in the very near future," Johnson said.
The Tennessee portion of The Pinnacle will be partially funded by recouping sales tax revenues through Tennessee legislation for large developments in border communities. That doesn't apply to Washington County, Va., which has been at odds with Bristol, Va., because the city is using similar legislation to develop The Falls near Interstate 81's Exit 5.
County leaders have unsuccessfully attempted to be included in that legislation.
"We haven't had much encouragement from our legislators that we could be added to the bill," Washington County, Va., Administrator Nadine Culbertson said. "Not having the tools that Bristol has for The Falls really shuts Washington County down for the term of that bill."
The county "welcomes the opportunity" to become part of The Pinnacle development, Culbertson said.
The Pinnacle is one of three major commercial developments announced for the region. Site work is also under way at The Falls and Heritage Point Town Center at the junction of Interstate 81 and Interstate 26 between Kingsport and Johnson City. Learn more
We are proud to announce Bass Pro Shops and Belk as our anchor tenants to The Pinnacle, our 250 acre mixed use development which will open in Bristol, Tennessee in 2014. Located at Exit 74 of Interstate 81, The Pinnacle is destined to become the premier shopping venue in the region, serving Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Southeastern Kentucky. Designed to accommodate over 1,300,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, hotel, medical office space and an outdoor ampitheatre. The addition of Bass Pro Shops and Belk at The Pinnacle will create a synergy that will provide its visitors with an experience that far exceeds that of all other retail destinations in the TriCities.
The Alpha Natural Resources Corporate Office was completed in October of 2011. The 130,000 square foot building will serve as the corporate headquarters for Alpha, one of America's leading producers of coal. The project will be LEED certified for commercial interiors. For more information on Alpha Natural Resources, visit their website at www.AlphaNR.com.
We are proud to announce our Crockett Crossing redevelopment which will be anchored by a new 50,000 square foot Food City grocery store. Crockett Crossing has a traffic count of over 40,000 cars per day and is located at the intersection of East Andrew Johnson Hwy and Erwin Hwy in the heart of Greeneville, TN. In addition to the Food City, we will be able to accomadate over 42,000 square feet of additional retail along with a 1.3+/- acre outparcel for future development. Food City is scheduled to open between late fall of 2012 and early spring of 2013.