NA president says development on W. Elk means new revenue and jobs for community

From Staff Reports
Charles Green told Elizabethton Rotarians Wednesday that the City of Elizabethton needs to capitalize on its natural beauty and promote the downtown area with heavy billboard advertising on both I-81 and the new I-26.
"There are retirees across the country that are looking for places like Elizabethton, and with the aging population growing, this will be even more so," Green said in remarks at the Rotary meeting.
He also said the city needed to establish additional businesses and more sit-down restaurants where so many people after 6 p.m. "don't have to go to Johnson City to eat and shop. We also need to have other types of businesses and retail trade to attract the people out of Western North Carolina that pass through our city going to Johnson City to shop and eat."
Green said North American, of which he is president, planned to participate in making Elizabethton a vital and growing business community through developing the old NAR industrial site on W. Elk Ave. "It can happen provided that everyone such as developers, property owners, and city officials are willing to work together," he said.
The local businessman said that Wal-Mart is a done deal and that construction will begin this fall on the supercenter. He also revealed that Lowe's has signed an option agreement, and that a retail developer from Memphis and North America are close to completion of a contract for several new businesses on the old industrial site.
Furthermore, Green said a Virginia developer is looking at two sit-down restaurants, and that other Tri-City developers are looking to locate businesses on the North American property.
"So what does all of this mean in dollars and cents to the county and city if all of this comes about?" Green posed to his audience, made up of Elizabethton business and professional people.
In investment, Green said the proposed new development would mean $38 million; 834 employees; $1,211,000 in property taxes each year; another $2,514,000 in sales taxes annually, bringing the total combined in property and sales tax to $3,725,000 annually.
"What we don't need to happen is what happened recently in that we turned away the largest retail pharmacy in the United States over a curb cut. If these types of incidents continue, we will get a reputation with other major developers or people that we are unwilling to work out details such as this," Green said.
He estimated that the amount of tax revenue, both property and sales tax lost from the proposed Rite Aid development, was $188,000 per year plus a payroll of $800,000. Rite Aid has proposed building a store on the NAR property, which fronted on W. Elk Ave., and had requested an exit and entrance to the store from W. Elk Ave. The proposed curb cut was met with opposition from the Elizabethton Planning Commission, nothing that another egress and ingress in that area would add to an already heavily congested traffic area.
"This does not mean that we need to call our city to so-called outsiders and develop unsafe traffic areas, but if we are to grow and capitalize on our local assets, then everyone such as developers, property owners, and city officials must be willing to work together," Green said.
In reference to the Wal-Mart Supercenter, which will be built on the NAR property on W. Elk Ave., Green said the NA distribution center located in the old warehouse will be torn down by Wal-Mart sometime in late fall. "We will relocate our new distribution center to Piney Flats next to the new manufacturing facility we built seven years ago," he said.
Green also noted that Elizabethton High School had expressed an interest in the large North American sign at the front entrance, and with the help of Sycamore Shoals Hospital, the sign will be moved to the high school and the sign name changed to Elizabethton High School this fall.