Johnson Commercial Development (JCD), which developed The Pinnacle, a 250+ acre mixed-use shopping and dining center on the Tennessee side of the Virginia border near Bristol, is now ready to develop the 350 acres it owns adjacent to the Pinnacle on the Virginia side. JCD plans to start by building an amphitheater with seating for 15,000, an adventure park with rides and activities, and a hotel and waterpark resort. Developer Steve Johnson said he plans to invest $239 million in the first phase of development. JCD is asking Washington County and the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide $10 million in infrastructure including storm drainage, paving and seeding.
“This development will create around 2,600 new jobs and generate in the neighborhood of $77 million in first-year revenue alone,” Johnson said. Those figures do not include construction jobs created by the building of the facilities involved, he said.
Breaking that down, building the waterpark hotel will require an investment of $160 million and create 800 jobs, Johnson said. The adventure park investment is around $62 million, with a projected 1,700 jobs created. The amphitheater will run $17 million and create around 100 jobs, according to a study commissioned by JCD.
In order to facilitate ingress and egress, Johnson is asking that the Pinnacle Parkway be extended from its current terminus between Bass Pro Shops and Marquee Cinemas to an intersection with Miller Hill Road near the Gate City Highway, and that Miller Hill Road be improved to accommodate the additional traffic.
“When you consider everything the state gave Amazon up in Crystal City,” Johnson said, “making this infrastructure investment in Southwest Virginia, where we really need the economic development, that seems like an easy decision to me. I mean, this is roads – this is the kind of thing government is actually supposed to do.”
JCD’s plans call for the adventure park to include multiple zip lines, a mountain coaster, a ropes course, go karts, dining and retail. The amphitheater will have 5,000 seats, with room for 10,000 more on the grass hillside.