By Scott Robertson
The long-awaited first tenant in the Tri-Cities Crossing development at the intersection of Interstates 26 and 81 has been announced. Local automobile dealer Chantz Scott says he will open Tennessee’s largest KIA dealership on the northwest corner of the intersection, across Interstate 81 from the area designated for retail development.
“We’re looking at going through the permitting process here soon,” Scott told The Business Journal in November. “We’re thinking that our goal to get out there and start doing some grading is the latter part of January or early February. We anticipate a seven to eight month construction period. We’re hoping to realistically get in there by the first of February, as I said. So that would lead to around an August completion.
“We’re looking at roughly a 30,000-square-foot state-of-the-art KIA facility with all new design,” Scott said. “We’ll have all the inventory we can handle. We’re probably looking at keeping somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 new vehicles and 100 used vehicles. At any given time we’ll probably have between 300 and 350 vehicles. That’ll fluctuate based on the selling season, manufacturer incentives and a lot of other factors, but if I had to give you a rough estimate, I would be confident with those numbers.”
The Chantz Scott Auto Group already employs around 75 people between the Stone Drive KIA dealership in Kingsport and a separate Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership in Virginia.
Scott stressed he would not be abandoning the Stone Drive location. “The dealership on Stone Drive will remain open as mostly a pre-owned supercenter and service center,” he said. “We’ll probably have around 45 to 50 new employees at the location at the Crossing.” Scott estimated the total capital investment in the new dealership at around $5 million.
Scott has been contemplating opening a dealership at the site since 2016, he said. “It was sometime last year when Stewart (Taylor, the property owner) and I had gotten together with William (Roller, of Mountcastle Corporation) and had toured the site. It sparked some interest. It was a long process to think it through. Then we had to go through manufacturer approval. So we really started getting the ball rolling this last six months progressing to finalize this deal.”
Plans for an auto mall of dealerships on the site were rumored several months ago, and could still happen. Drawings for such a concept are visible online at the Mountcastle Corporation website.
Taylor first announced plans to develop Tri-Cities Crossing as a retail development in the December 2011 issue of the Business Journal. The project stalled for several years, however, after the planned anchor tenant, Bass Pro Shops, decided to place its Northeast Tennessee store a few miles to the northeast.
In December 2014, Taylor signaled renewed efforts to develop the property by placing a large sign visible from both interstates. Taylor, who declined in November to speak on the record regarding specifics, now says he is, “excited” about the possibility that the Chantz Scott dealership will be only the first of several announcements involving new tenants for Tri-Cities Crossing.