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Elizabethton TIF district gets final local approval

John Thompson • Updated May 24, 2018 at 7:52 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The city of Elizabethton’s first-ever tax increment financing district now has the approval of all the local governing bodies needed and is only awaiting final authorization from the state comptroller’s office, according to interim Elizabethton City Manager Jon Hartman.

The Elizabethton Housing and Development Agency’s board of directors unanimously approved the plan on Tuesday that will create a TIF district on the south bank of the Watauga River in the area formerly occupied by Elizabethton’s two large rayon factories.

The plan had already been approved by both the county’s and city’s governing bodies. On March 19, the Carter County Commission voted 21-1, with two abstentions to approve the TIF. On April 12, the Elizabethton City Council unanimously approved the plan.

As this is the first time Elizabethton has undertaken a tax increment financing district, the plan went through a five-year period of study and public information. The international firm of Parsons Brinckerhoff, in association with Dan and Ruth Hawk, developed a detailed market analysis and conceptual master plan for the development of the district, which was published in May 2015.

Local leaders hope the incentives will encourage redevelopment of the former industrial site. The tax increment financing will mean property values will remain at the current level for 30 years, allowing investors to take larger risks in an area where there could be unknown costs.

Unknown costs were incurred when Shane Abraham and his Universal Development and Construction Company were working to complete the final phase of an apartment complex along the Watauga River.

While preparing the ground for the final phase, a holding tank containing a volatile chemical was uncovered. The exposure to the air led to a hazardous material emergency that lasted several days.

Local economic development leaders hope the TIF District will make the site an attractive location, with its riverfront area and close proximity to residential areas, shopping centers, medical facilities and parks.

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