BetsyTowne being marketed for businesses

Published 5:36 pm Monday, February 27, 2017

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
BetsyTowne Shopping Center is recruiting businesses in the area after new owners took over the property.

The U.S. Highway 19E business corridor of Elizabethton could soon see new businesses enter the area.
BetsyTowne Shopping Center was recently purchased by locally-based developer, D&D Properties, and the process is underway to market the center for businesses to reemerge on that side of the city.
Elizabethton Director of Planning & Economic Development Jon Hartman said the city is in the early stages of working with the developers to identify possible businesses and the demographic for the area. Doing homework on the center will be important moving forward, according to Hartman.
“We want to do our homework and look at all the options,” he said. “One thing we don’t want to do is oversaturate the market and have a business come in and close down two to three years later. We’re working with the developers to help market the center for potential businesses.”
Following up the corporate decision of Lonestar closing down restaurants across Tennessee, including the U.S. 19E location, and Big Lots moving to the Old Magic Mart building, new businesses coming to that side of the city will be a benefit, Hartman said.
“It could mean a lot, potentially, for that side of the city,” he said. The director added the area of the city proves to be unique showing that approximately 22,000 people come through the Elizabethton trade area. The addition of businesses would revive the center also adding tax revenues for both the city and the county, Hartman added.
2017 has started off on a bright note for economic development within the region thanks in part to the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership picking up traction. The organization is a collaborative effort between Carter, Washington and Unicoi counties and the governments to help market the area to bring in various businesses to the region.
Retailers are starting to notice the Tri-Cities more, Hartman said, and the notice is beginning to shift more toward Elizabethton’s way with pent-up demand in the area for retail due to the additions of new housing developments since 2008. Another key factor now is working with a regional developer on the Magic Mart building, which still has room for possible one to two more businesses to open inside the complex next to the future Big Lots.
Along with working on bringing businesses into the area, the steps are already in place to look at implement tax-increment financing (TIF) to help with development.
Instituting a TIF district would allow higher property tax revenues to be brought in as the value of a redevelopment moves up over the years, which cities in Northeast Tennessee, like Johnson City and Kingsport, have been able to reap the benefit of.
The director stated that an attorney is on board for the project and the hope is to have a TIF district up and running by the end of the year. TIF Districts have been discussed in presentations and have been tentatively pegged for the area along Elk Avenue from Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park to Miso’s and north to Watauga River.

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