City close to finalizing Wal-Mart SuperCenter plans

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com
City of Elizabethton planning staff and the property developer representing Wal-Mart are nearing final approval for creating a site plan and subdivision plan for the highly anticipated supercenter on West Elk Avenue.
"Once the subdivision plan is approved and recorded, it is officially done," said David Ornduff, city director of planning and development.
Ornduff said planning staff and property developers representing Wal-Mart would meet later this month to iron out final details in the site plan and subdivision plat requirements.
Commercial development around the North American campus may just be beginning.
Wal-Mart SuperCenter developments often give rise to larger commercial and retail developments in a community. Despite whispers around town that chain restaurants and other large retailers are interested in following Wal-Mart's new store, Ornduff declined to speculate on rumors of new commercial developments purported to be on the heels of the supercenter.
In an attempt to facilitate subsequent business near the site, the city's planning commission approved a resolution at its August meeting to request the Tennessee Department of Transportation construct a bridge across the Watauga River connecting the Northern Connector five-lane highway to the Cherokee Industrial Park.
The Knoxville-based development firm Certified Properties had submitted a site plan to develop the 22.69-acre tract where the North American Corporation building stands. Wal-Mart paid $2.8 million in May for the property on the North American Rayon Corp. campus to develop a supercenter store.
The site plan includes a 205,000 square-foot building and calls for the demolition of the existing NARC warehouse.
The Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission voted 5-2 to approve the Wal-Mart Supercenter site plan on Feb. 4, 2002. The approved plan did not include a street curb cut on West Elk Avenue as requested by the property management company representing Wal-Mart. Site plan and subdivision plat approval is contingent on property developers making modifications to conform with the approved plans.
"We have their revised site plan, and they have made those changes up to this point," Ornduff said. He also said the city had already approved in principle the supercenter structure plan submitted to the city's building department. However, the company could not apply for a building permit or demolition permit to level the North American Rayon Corp. building or break ground on the supercenter.
The company's site plan also includes a connector road from the NARC property to the cul-de-sac at Wallace Avenue. The road opens up the second access point to West Elk Avenue sought after by the company.
Site, Inc., an engineering firm also based in Knoxville, conducted a traffic study of potential patterns and problems on West Elk. Site, Inc. is currently developing Wal-Mart SuperCenter stores in Knoxville and Rockwood as well as Somerset, Ky.