BRISTOL, Va. — The city appears to be edging closer to attracting new businesses to The Falls.
A lease plan map on Interstate Realty’s website this week lists a 2.87-acre parcel at the intersection of Lee Highway and Cabela Drive as “under contract.” Interstate is the city’s primary partner in developing the commercial center near Interstate 81’s Exit 5.
The site, identified as “lot 20,” is on the opposite side of the intersection from the existing ALDI grocery store near the roundabout. The diagram shows two 9,600-square-foot buildings facing Lee Highway.
City Manager Randy Eads said he hopes an announcement could occur within the next two months.
“We all know The Falls isn’t progressing like we would like for it to have progressed. But we’re constantly working to find suitable tenants for The Falls — tenants not only where it makes business sense for them to be in Bristol, but it makes sense for Bristol to have them as part of our community,” Eads said.
Further to the east, a larger site is shown with a 53,785-square-foot “retail” business with a large parking lot, which is listed on the map as in “negotiations with national grocer.”
At one time, Publix grocery stores announced plans to build a store near Bristol, Virginia, but those plans never came to fruition.
An Interstate Realty official didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this week, Bristol Virginia City Council approved a $350,000 meals tax rebate for a developer to build a 1,500-square-foot Pizza Hut on land just across Lee Highway from The Falls. City officials said they would be able to recoup additional tax revenues from the business because it lies within the originally proposed latter phases of the development.
The Falls was created after the Virginia General Assembly approved a program to temporarily allow a percentage of state sales tax revenues to flow back to the locality to help subsidize the development near the border with Tennessee. It was modeled after a Tennessee border region law that helped create The Pinnacle development.
This summer, developer K.D. Moore announced plans to locate a 20,000-square-foot Planet Fitness exercise center and a 10,000-square-foot retail building with businesses related to the gym on sites near the eastern edge of The Falls, near Pizza Plus.
Those parcels, totaling 3.8 acres, are depicted as “under contract” on the map.
The developer now has a permit to begin work on that site, Eads said.
Elsewhere on Interstate’s drawing, a 2.5-acre parcel listed as “lot 15” is depicted with a single building and 16,400 square feet of retail space. This is between Cabela’s and the building that includes Buffalo Wild Wings and three other businesses and the former proposed site of the Tru by Hilton hotel, which was canceled by the developer.
There are still no markings on lot 12 — the center’s most visible remaining parcel — on the hill just east of the main entrance. That 2.1-acre site is where Calhoun’s restaurant was originally supposed to go. Calhoun’s Knoxville-based parent company, Copper Cellar, withdrew from the project after its two-year contract expired because the center was taking so long to develop.