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NS Town Center granted TIF

Northshore Town Center got a push toward continued development from Knox County Commission, Monday, Feb. 28.

Commission approved $9 million tax increment financing for more infrastructure improvements to the property at the corner of Pellissippi Parkway and Northshore Drive, including constructing a slip ramp from Pellissippi, installing traffic signals and widening Northshore, as well as more city streets within the development.

Developer Budd Cullom bought the 134-acre tract in a foreclosure sale in 2009. He said the plans for Northshore Town Center include a 34,000 square foot discount department store, a 45,000 square foot grocery and possibly a hardware store and a movie theater. One of the stores is rumored to be a Target.

“We feel like when we have those done and that’s official, and we’ve begun work on all the roads, we have interest from a lot of other retail. We have interest from apartment developers, who would like to do some multi-family ... and upper end assisted living, nursing home type developers,” Cullom said.

The development might also include a health center and various retail and restaurant establishments.

Cullom said he envisioned some unique developments within Northshore Town Center, although none of the ideas were finalized yet.

“We’re talking to a cinema chain about a specialty-type, eight to 12 screens where they actually have food and alcohol sales, more like a dinner-type theater,” Cullom said.

“A lot of restaurant users are excited about our plans to have a lot of restaurants around the lake with a boardwalk and an amphitheater. It’ll almost have the feel of like a Market Square, only on the water,” he added.

The initial contractor who built the existing homes in Northshore Town Center, Mike Stevens Builders, also is expected to sign back on for continuing the residential areas in the back of the development.

County Commission Chair Mike Hammond said he considered the TIF — basically a temporary relief from paying property taxes — to be a good deal for Knox County.

“I felt it was a great deal for Knox County to get people back to work and also, once it’s done, to see the tax revenue that’s going to be generated,” he said.

The Commission’s action essentially renewed a TIF granted to Northshore Town Center’s previous developer so that it could now be applied to Cullom.

But Commissioners Amy Broyles and Sam McKenzie objected to the TIF, with McKenzie saying the property — which has sat dormant for about three years — didn’t meet the criteria. Normally, TIFs are applied to “blighted” properties, he said.

“The term ‘blight’ is a very nebulous type thing ... so the fact you’ve had this property lying dormant down there for two or three years with nothing going on, I think that you could ... consider that a piece of blighted property,” Hammond said.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a downtown area with a dilapidated building or anything like that,” he added.

Hammond said the construction and development also would create jobs and generate sales tax for the county.

“You’re going to have a lot of construction people who desperately need to go to work that are going to be working on this,” he said.

“The sales tax revenue, and just the tax revenue that comes from the investment in that, in my mind, will more than pay for the $9 million [in property tax] that we’re going to waive,” he added.

“These folks are coming in and making a lot of infrastructure improvements to that area ... the $9 million is going to be paid back very, very quickly as this property is developed and with all of the things that they’re going to be doing down there,” he added.

Broyles and McKenzie both voted against the TIF, which already has been approved by the Knox County Industrial Development Board and Knoxville City Council.

Knox County Schools System has made plans to construct an elementary school inside Northshore Town Center as well, and recently approved a more than $500,000 contract for designing the school.


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