KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- City leaders are moving forward in developing the old General Shale property. Planned projects include building a bike pump track and festival grounds. The Kingsport Board of Mayor & Aldermen still need to vote to approve finalized plans. However, the bike pump track had full support from board members at a strategic planning session held February 7th.
The property for development lies right beyond downtown Kingsport, adjacent to Brickyard Park. City leaders say about 39 of the 100 acres of property are ready to be transformed.
“Those are really some easy wins for us. Those are low-hanging fruit,” said Jason Hudson, Kingsport’s director of economic development.
A recent study by private consulting firm Sterling Project Development found the pump track and festival grounds, plus residential and industrial development space, would be the best use of the property.
The city is currently working with a firm on the design and cost of the bike pump track. Hudson said there would also be a circuit track around the pump track for longer rides. The project is expected to be complete by 2021.
Anthony Williams, co-owner of Reedy Creek Bicycles in downtown Kingsport, said the project has been a request of the cycling community for a few years. He said the pump track would be similar in size to the one at Tannery Knobs Bike Park in Johnson City.
“It’s a small track with jumps, or just rolling terrain that you can ride your bike on,” said Williams. “It’s something to keep your momentum, it’s a really good workout, it’s a great place to take your kids to ride,” said Williams.
Hudson said a parking lot and restrooms would also be built by the bike pump track.
A pedestrian bridge stretching over the train tracks is being planned so the newly-developed space is accessible from downtown. A report from August 2019 estimated the pedestrian bridge would cost around $3 million.
The bridge will lead into the designated festival ground area.
“It would be a place for concerts, for outdoor venues,” said Hudson.
The remaining segment of the property is still open for private development. Hudson said the City is currently in talks with both residential and industrial developers interested in the space.
One thing the city likely won’t see in the near future – a previously-discussed multi-use venue with a baseball field. The August 2019 report listed the estimated to cost as over $10 million.
Hudson said the proposed project is stalled as the MLB deliberates eliminating Appalachian League teams in the region.
“Until we know what’s going to happen with minor league baseball and the Appalachian League and those types of issues, there’s not a reason to make that investment in a resource that large until we know what the future holds,” said Hudson.
Hudson said the festival ground space could be reserved if the city ever did want to build a large venue in the future.
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