The East Ridge Industrial Development Board received a briefing from staff and representatives of the firm building the new Bass Pro Shops on Tuesday night during a regularly scheduled meeting.
City Treasurer Thad Jablonski explained to board members the exclusion of 36 businesses from the Border Region district. Jablonski said he has worked with IDB attorney Mark Mamantov to identify businesses that if they closed would have a detrimental effect on the city getting sales tax reimbursement from the state.
“This is the best recommendation we could come up with based on the information we have,” he said. “I’ll hang my hat on that.”
The Border Region Act allows the city to receive 75 percent of state sales taxes from new businesses locating in the defined Border Region district _ The I-75 Exit 1 area, Ringgold Road’s commercial district, Germantown Road and much of South Terrace. A base year of 2012 was established in sales tax collections. Any taxes over and above the base year amount the city is eligible to receive a reimbursement from the state.
By removing the businesses, Jablonski explained, the city is lowering the base year figure, and potentially putting itself in a position to be reimbursed more money in ensuing years.
The drawback is that if businesses that have been excluded are replaced by other businesses that make more revenue than the ones it replaced, the city would not be eligible to collect the 75 percent incremental tax, officials said.
This is a one-time move, Jablsonki stated.
John Healy and Matt Wood, two principals in the development group building Bass Pro and a larger retail complex called Jordan Crossing at Exit 1 adjacent to Camp Jordan, told the IDB that construction on laying block for the new outdoor store should begin in a couple weeks. Wood said construction of the Bass Pro Shops takes between 10 and 12 months.
The developers have tentative agreements with a couple restaurants and a hotel to locate in the Jordan Crossing development in the future. However, Healy said that those deals are contingent on sewer capacity being expanded in the area and improvements to the road fronting the development, Camp Jordan Parkway.
Healy said his group has met with the Hamilton County Water & Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) and officials there have given no indication when they might address the issue of increasing sewer capacity in the area.
Wood and Healy both said the sewer and road improvements will not effect the construction of the Bass Pro Shops.
IDB Chairwoman Ruth Braly asked if there was a timetable for sewer improvements.
Jablonski said that he has been working with an engineer who helped the city apply for a federal sewer grant on behalf of WWTA, and that city officials should know something by the fall.
“They (WWTA) hold the cards,” Jablonski said. “It’s key infrastructure.”
Healy said road improvements on Ringgold Road would entail making six lanes over the bridge on I-75 and on-ramp improvements at Exit 1 heading East. The second exit heading West on Ringgold Road would be eliminated. The construction on the interstate on-ramp would have to have approval from the federal government.
Camp Jordan Parkway would be expanded to a five-lane boulevard with sidewalks on both sides. The primary road to Camp Jordan could be closed from November until the Spring of 2016, he said. Total estimated cost for road improvements is $2.8 million, with financing coming from Hamilton County, East Ridge, TDOT and the developers.
Jablonski told the board that Retail Strategies, a Birmingham-based consulting group that the city has hired, did a good job “planting seeds” representing East Ridge at the RECon Convention in Las Vegas last month. Jablonski said the consulting firm has identified several businesses, including but not limited to three fast food concepts, a hardware home center concept store, two health and beauty businesses and six developers, that are considering hanging a shingle in East Ridge.
Jablonski said Retail Strategies are working with Wood and Healy to attract businesses to the new Jordan Crossing development. “If we create a magnet there, it will help (Retail Strategies) with the job of filling storefronts on Ringgold Road,” he said.
IDB board member Mac Pendley asked if Retail Strategies have “nailed down anything firm yet?”
Jablonski said that hasn’t happened yet. “Their (Retail Strategies) plan is to help the city in a systematic way,” he said. “They are taking the long view. I believe they are earning their money.”