ABINGDON, Va. — Developer Steve Johnson is now set to receive the entire 10% admissions tax for his entertainment complex at The Pinnacle, the Washington County Board of Supervisors decided at its Tuesday night meeting.
Johnson said the admissions tax — adopted earlier this year by the board — has been needed to help fund the $200 million entertainment complex, slated to include an amphitheater, hotel and water park just off Interstate 81’s Exit 1.
“I think this is a historic moment,” Johnson said prior to the board’s unanimous vote. “I think that Washington County is on the cusp of something extraordinary happening.”
The project — with no definitive timeline for construction — could produce more than 1,000 jobs, as well as more than $1 million per year in sales tax revenue and more than $1 million per year in real estate tax, according to Johnson, who developed The Pinnacle retail/restaurant complex adjacent to the property in Bristol, Tennessee.
Allowing an admissions tax for the property was approved by the Virginia General Assembly.
Earlier this year, County Administrator Jason Berry suggested that tax could be used for anticipated fire and rescue services needed at The Pinnacle development in Virginia.
But on Tuesday, Berry suggested those services could be paid through tax revenue from the facility and noted the possibility of contracting such services from providers in nearby Sullivan County, Tennessee.
Johnson spoke in favor of the supervisors adopting a resolution that endorses giving him the admissions tax revenue. The tax will be charged only on tickets purchased at the proposed attractions slated to be built on the Virginia side of The Pinnacle property.
“Without it, there is no project,” Johnson said. “I’m basically spending all the money. I’m taking all the risks.”
Johnson said he is still exploring avenues to get a $10 million entrance road built into the property off Gate City Highway, U.S. Highway 58.
The developer was unsuccessful earlier this year in trying to have the road funded through an amendment to the state budget.
On Tuesday, Johnson said he will not ask the county to fund that road.
“I don’t intend, moving forward, asking you for anything, other than the admission tax,” Johnson said. “I’m not asking you for $10 million.”