KINGSPORT – A $9 million Sullivan Street redevelopment anchor project will soon get underway as the Press Group LLC received approval from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen this week to purchase a portion of the former Quebecor building.

"This is a landmark downtown investment that will spur other reinvestment along the Sullivan Street corridor for years to come," Mayor Dennis Phillips said. "I want to thank the Press Group and Mountain Region for making this project happen and demonstrating true faith in the future of Kingsport."

Currently, Mountain Region operates out of several offices around the area. When the project is complete in 14 months or so, Mountain Region will consolidate its practice groups in 66,000 square feet, or one entire floor of the three story structure that formerly housed a portion of the Quebecor book plant.

In all, 18 physicians and more than 100 total staff will be working at the Press Building. The medical practice is also expected to generate 70,000 office visits a year to the property.

As the site develops over the next few years, another 132,000 square feet will be available for additional medical service, retail and possibly even a few residential units. Hiram Rash of Goins Rash Cain indicated that there are a half-dozen other potential tenants interested in the project.

The decision to move ahead is a milestone as the project is the first redevelopment announcement on the 1 million square feet Quebecor site that was donated to the city in 2007.

"Most developers would want a clean slate to work with, and demolishing this structure would have run upwards of $1 million," City Manager John Campbell said. "Through some innovative design and a ton of due diligence, the developers have arrived at a way to re-skin the entire facade of the structure and convert the interior to accommodate modern commercial-medical needs.

"And, while the initial investment is $9 million, upon full build out, it will be closer to a $24 million property. This is an extremely exciting project for Kingsport that will begin to bring an empty structure back onto the property tax ledger."

In fact, at complete build out, the rejuvenated facility will generate nearly as much property tax as the entire Quebecor plant did in its last full year of operation.