Food City to invest $11.5 million in new Erwin shopping center

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Jul 23, 2018 at 9:26 PM

ERWIN — The town of Erwin is getting a new Food City shopping center on its Tenn. Highway 107 gateway into downtown.

In three consecutive votes of approval on Monday, the Unicoi County Industrial Development Board, the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Unicoi County Commission each gave a thumbs up to a $600,000 tax incentive package that KVAT Foods Vice President of Real Estate Stephen Spangler said was contingent to Food City’s $11.5 million investment.

In addition to a 44,000-square-foot full-service Food City grocery store with a pharmacy and a Food City Gas & Go fuel center, the project will include the construction of 7,500 square feet of commercial space capable of housing up to six additional business.

Outlining the project schedule, Spangler told the IDB and the commission that Food City hopes to close on the property transfer in August, break ground on the project in September and open the store in April.

The center will be built on a portion of the former Hoover-Ball manufacturing plant located behind Taco Bell, Bojangles and Pals restaurants on Tenn. 107 at South Industrial Drive.

Spangler told the boards and the commission that Food City anticipates 145 full- and part-time employees at the store and anticipates the creation of 35 additional jobs by businesses that locate in the additional commercial space.

Tyler Engle, director of the Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County, said the $600,000 tax-incentive package includes waivers by the county and town of property tax increases on the improvements of the property made by Food City during a 15-year term.

The project will not require any monetary investment by the town or county and will not reduce the amount of property tax the two governments currently collect on the property, Engle said.

Spangler said the project includes a $7.5 million in improvement to the property from which the town and the county will see a increase in property taxes after the 15-year term of the $600,000 tax-incentive financing. The $600,000 will be used for specific infrastructure improvements to the property that will also benefit the town he said.

Food City anticipates the anticipates the project will create annual sales taxes of $420,974 that will be divided equally between the town and the county school system.

To help with traffic flow at the main entrance to the shopping center, the town has committed to construction of a traffic signal at the intersection of the Tenn. 107 railroad overpass and the existing Taco Bell and Bojangles entrance.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.