KINGSPORT – Kingsports Fiscal Year 2014 building season posted solid results for private construction investment, with outlays nearly double the rate demonstrated in the City in recent years.

At the same time, an independent financial services website has recognized Kingsport as tops among Cities on the Rise in Tennessee given economic fundamentals, while sales tax collections show further strengthening and existing home sale are also rising.

A total of 600 building permits were issued in FY 14, with 438 residential permits and 162 commercial for a combined value of $128.26 million, according to Kingsport Development Services Building Division. Thats up from $66.35 million in FY 2013.

This strong growth is very similar to what we were accustomed to seeing in 2007, 2008 and 2009 due to commercial and residential investment, but led in 2014 by industrial reinvestment and resurgence in residential construction in our community, City Manager Jeff Fleming said Wednesday. It is particularly encouraging to see residential development returning to healthy levels, which shows faith in where Kingsport is heading.

Eastman Chemical Company posted the largest single building permit in City history in FY14 with a $74.31 million permit for its new corporate business center. But Eastman also pulled three additional permits totaling $1.89 million for new industrial capacity.

Residential development grew by 10 percent in FY 14, with 87 new single family housing starts, at a total construction value of $17.54 million, up 39 percent from $12.61 million in FY 2013. Average construction cost was also up in a big way to $201,595 per unit.

In the commercial space, Aldis grocery store, Wendys, Krispy Kreme and Cook Out Burgers represent continuing retail reinvestment on Stone Drive, while Downtown continues to blossom, adding Macados‚  restaurant (under construction), facilities for a doctor and a dentist, new downtown loft apartments, and Ozark Mountain Brewing supplies, among others.

Home improvement and commercial reuse were also strong in the fiscal year, with 192 permits for additions and alterations issued at an estimated construction value of $21.63 million.

Of the total, 76 permits were for residential renovations, 31 for residential additions, and six permits issued for churches and schools.

Another 72 permits were written for commercial renovations at a total value of $17.6 million. The largest single commercial renovation permit was for $5.7 million at 2300 Pavilion Drive issued to National Healthcare Corporation.

Looking ahead to FY15, the Center on Stone is underway replacing an outdated Microtel on East Stone Drive, while a new retail location for MHC Kenworth is being constructed on the Airport Parkway, with strong interest being shown in developing the Riverbend property off Fort Henry Drive.

In 2015, additional residential development is expected to continue at Anchor Point, Chase Meadows, Edinburgh, Old Island, Polo Fields, Wind Ridge and the Summit at Preston Park.

Kingsports Building Division is also responsible for protecting neighborhoods by working to improve, remove and/or replace abandoned or dilapidated properties. In FY 2014, 31 houses were identified as substandard. In all, 10 properties were demolished, four by property owners and six by order of the Building Official.

When taken as a whole, it is clear Kingsport is regaining momentum, Fleming said. We continue to focus on recruiting new jobs, retaining existing opportunities, and working to expand our housing options, both multi-family and single family residential. Expanding investment grows our tax base. An expanding base coupled with our internal focus on building efficiency and streamlining local government keeps the tax rate lower over time for all our residents and property owners.

According to NerdWallet, statistics for population growth, employment growth and income growth for the years 2009 to 2012 indicate Kingsport led the way in Tennessee, ahead of even Franklin, with double-digit growth in income and population. The report authors note that education drives growth in Kingsport, with advanced manufacturing playing a major role in Kingsport and six of the top 10 Cities on the Rise in Tennessee.

Meanwhile, sales tax collections for FY 14 grew 1.77 percent. However, the first two months of FY 15 sales taxes collected in May and June were up by 5.68 percent over the previous year, while also coming in above budget projections.

And, in another positive indicator, the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors points out that in July, Kingsport home sales were up by 18.4 percent, representing the fifth double-digit sales increase this year. The average selling price for an existing single family home was up 2.2 percent to $162,181 last month.

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