East Ridge Agrees To $4 Million In Upfront Incentives For Bass Pro Shops Despite "Risks"

Friday, August 15, 2014 - by Gail Perry

Both the East Ridge City Council and the East Ridge Industrial Development Board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve an agreement that will allow the border region development in the city to move forward, though the cost of incentives is high and officials were told some risks are involved.

The last big legal step was the incentive agreement with Wolftever Development, the company that is bringing Bass Pro Shops to anchor a shopping district adjacent to Camp Jordan Park.

The state of Tennessee provided East Ridge the designation as a border region. This will allow the city to provide monetary incentives for retail development which will come back to the city by receiving a larger than usual percentage of the sales tax generated at the new businesses. 

East Ridge Industrial Development Board attorney Mark Mamantov of Bass, Berry and Sims told the council that there had been a lot of give and take and compromises made in the negotiations to create an agreement that he said was not perfect but fair. He said this would give the city a transformative opportunity.

East Ridge has agreed to pay the developers a total of $4 million. Of that, $3 million will be paid as the building reaches certain benchmarks during the construction and before the business opens its doors. The last $1 million will be paid when the store opens.

Overall, the incentives for the border development could reach $11 million counting the tax abatement, it was stated.

There is risk involved for the city, Mr. Mamantov told the council before the vote, starting with construction risks for unexpected items that could occur at the site which could increase the building costs. There is also the possibility that Bass Pro Shops could ask for tax abatement. By Tennessee law the city would have no say-so in this matter. Hamilton County would be the body that would grant this request. Another risk would be if the store went out of business. The city would still be responsible for paying the incremental payments. The developers are so confident that this project will be successful, they agreed to loan the last payment of $1 million to the city if East Ridge cannot get financing for this last payment in the event that the business fails.

 The council voted to issue $300,500 of general obligation bonds in order to fund the incentive agreement.

 The timeline for construction began last Friday when the engineering plans were submitted. Permits have been applied for and the developer is waiting to get them back. Filling the site will start Sept. 1 or before if the permits come back sooner than expected.

 John Bridger, executive director of the Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency addressed the council about a joint funding arrangement with East Ridge. Several years ago a sales tax agreement between the county and the individual cities expired. In order for the RPA to recoup the cost of services they  provided after the expiration and for future services they will provide for the city, a three-year agreement with East Ridge will pay the RPA $46,033 annually. This amount covers basic services but rates for specialized projects will need to be negotiated.

 An ordinance was approved to designate five full-time positions for city employees. City Manager Andrew Hyatt said these are not new positions, two vacancies will be filled and all jobs are currently budgeted for. Some job descriptions and titles have changed as well as qualifications and responsibilities. The two jobs to fill vacancies will be advertised.

 The council approved a bid of $10,600 for a zero turn commercial mower for the parks and recreation department. Approval was also given to put out for bid, a rescue engine for the fire department. This truck would be set up to use for fire, rescue, hazardous materials handling and emergency medical care. Delivery of this vehicle is not expected before next year so the cost would be included in the 2015 budget.

Approval to obtain bids for two all-terrain vehicles for the police department was also given. They will be needed with the new canoe launches at Camp Jordan Park and for organized events that take place there.

Property at 511 and 517 Frawley Road was rezoned from A-1 Agricultural and R-1 Residential to RZ-1, zero lot line residential. Rezoning was also granted for property at 1511 Maxwell Road with the designation changing from R-1 Residential to O-1 Office district.

 The request to change zoning of property across the street from city hall at 1516 Tombras Ave. from R-1 Residential to R-3 Apartments district was denied.  The plan that the developer brought before the council for final approval was different from the plan that had been presented to the East Ridge Planning Commission. The number of apartments had been changed as well as the configuration. City Attorney Hal North said that the final version needed to go back to the planning commission for approval before being brought back to the council.

The city’s new ordinance regarding permit fees and application for peddlers and solicitors was amended to allow for political exemptions.

The council voted to participate in the Tennessee Municipal League’s risk management pool driver safety” matching grant program. They also accepted a justice assistant grant of $12,329 to purchase police equipment.

Exemptions were granted to several organizations for waiving the rental fees for city facilities. Hamilton County Schools will hold the event Family Fit Together 5k on Oct. 4 at Camp Jordan Park. The Lions Club was given permission to use the community center for meetings on Sept. 23-25. The Optimist Club will also be allowed to use the Arena for no charge. Dick’s Sporting Goods was authorized as the sponsor of youth football and lacrosse programs at Camp Jordan Park. Parks and Recreation Director Stump Martin told the council that parents have received 20 percent discounts plus they have been given discount coupons at the store.


Many Photos Of Fairyland Development Featured In New Hiener Photo Book

Many photos of the Fairyland development on Lookout Mountain are featured in the new historic photo book being published by Chattanoogan.com. Garnet and Frieda Carter carried out the fanciful development in the 1920s. It was during the construction that the game of miniature golf was invented when a golf ball was hit through a drain pipe at the job site. It was first called ... (click for more)

Beer Permit Issued For Oktoberfest At Cambridge Square

A special events beer permit was issued by the City Beer Board on Thursday morning for Oktoberfest that will be put on by Haven & Ale, 9453 Bradmore Lane at Cambridge Square, for the third year.   On Saturday from noon until 5 p.m. there will be a beer truck stationed outside the business in the parking lot. The square will be blocked off from traffic by the ... (click for more)

Literacy Is Critical

Government spending is often portrayed as a freight train "quickly running out of track." And there is some truth to that statement. There is not an endless supply of money to fund every good idea that comes along, and we must acknowledge that problem. Fiscal responsibility is a must.  That is why spending on priority issues like public education is important. You can spend ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Little History Lesson

We are told that, as of today, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick holds the dual distinction of being “the most hated man in the NFL” and the wearer of “this year’s No. 1 Most-Purchased NFL jersey.” We also know that early voting just opened in “The Election of the Lesser of Two Evils” and, in Nashville, our educators are struggling with what parts of actual history should ... (click for more)

Baylor Bounces Back To Earn Finals Berth Against Briarcrest

MURFREESBORO – There’s good news and bad news concerning the Baylor volleyball team. The good news is that they will be playing Briarcrest on Friday morning at MTSU’s Murphy Center for the Division II-AA state volleyball title. The bad news is that they’ll be facing that monumental challenge without the services of their best player and team leader Gabby Gray. The Lady ... (click for more)

Farragut Overwhelms Cleveland 3-0 In Elimination Match

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Thursday’s elimination match between Cleveland and powerful Farragut began and crumbled in the first few points. Cleveland got an early 3-0 lead. Farragut went on a 23-3 run and demolished the Lady Blue Raiders 3-0 in a lopsided that sent Cleveland home knowing how far it still has to go to compete with the elite Class 3A volleyball teams in the state. ... (click for more)