It was announced late Monday afternoon that Bass Pro Shop will be coming to East Ridge at the Exit 1 development near Camp Jordan.
Wolftever Development is building the 85,000 square-foot outlet that specializes in hunting, fishing, camping and other related outdoor gear. According to a press release from Bass Pro Shop, the East Ridge store will be it's sixth in the state, with new locations under construction in Memphis and Bristol.
The store is expected to be completed in 2016, officials said.
"Having the opportunity to build a super outdoor store directly fronting I-75 will allow us to bring Bass Pro Shops low prices and famous friendly, expert service to serve the many sportsmen, women as well as the visitors to this area each year," said Johnny Morris, founder of the business. "This retail attraction will be a tribute to the great sporting tradition and heritage of the region and a celebration of the sporting men and women of Tennessee.
The announcement came as the East Ridge Industrial Development Board was convening for its second meeting.
John Healy, a principal with the Wolftever group, said there is a lot of work that must be done in coming months.
The Bass Pro Shop will be "the triggering event" to allow development under the state's "Border Region Act," Healy said. The investment in the store is expected to surpass $20 million and draw more than one million visitors to our city.
These benchmarks, officials said, will allow the city to capture substantial state sales tax revenues to finance the $5 million it intends to borrow and use as financial assistance and incentives for the project.
"We look forward to working with you all and the city," Healy said.
The Industrial Development Board has retained the services of attorney G. Mark Mamantov. Mamantov helped draft the "Border Region" legislation and shepherded Bristol through the process recently.
City Attorney Hal North characterized Mamantov as "the Godfather of the Border Region legislation. We can't do better."
Board member Mac Pendley, whose grandfather once owned the land being developed, asked the Wolftever representatives what other stores might be locating adjacent to the Bass Pro Shop.
"Getting Bass Pro Shop as the anchor is huge," Healy said. "We have plans for an additional 150,000 to 200,000 square feet of retail space. In addition there is also a hotel. We have some additional land under contract."
The city will also have at its disposal the services of Jeff Broughton, the former city manager of Bristol, who now works for the University of Tennessee's Municipal Technical Advisory Service.
City Treasurer Thad Jablonski said Broughton will provide the city a source of expertise.
"He will be able to answer a lot of questions and we will get a lot of guidance from this man," Jablonski said.
Board member Curtis Baker asked Wolftever representatives if the fire station near Camp Jordan would have to be moved.
"It will have to move," Healy said. "It won't hurt the city's ISO rating (a fire safety rating that impacts insurance costs). The anchor tenant calls the shots in these situations. I'm sure your city manager can attest to that."
Jablonski told the board that the relocation of the fire hall will be just "one of dozens of items up for discussion. It's an intensive project."
There was some speculation by the board that the fire hall could be moved to the current site of the East Ridge Flea Market. And, that the state _ at some point in the future_ would alter the northern on ramp to the interstate.
Vice Mayor Jim Bethune said the development at Exit 1 would "grow that whole end of East Ridge and turn this city upside down."
City Councilman Larry Sewell, who was vacationing on the gulf, may have summed up the potential of the development best.
"This is going to be as big to East Ridge as Volkswagen was to Chattanooga," he said.