Development deal set to close

Lenoir City approves land annexation by 3-2 vote

Two Loudon County developers are set to close Thursday on the first of two properties that Lenoir City Council annexed this week for the construction of Creekwood Park, a $250 million mixed-use development.

Creekwood Park LLC organizers Ed Loy and Tony Hale are expected to complete the purchase of a 154-acre parcel from JLW LLC. Loy declined to disclose the sale price of the property.

They retain an option until March 2007 on an adjoining 55-acre lot owned by a Lenoir City family.

Lenoir City Council approved the annexation by a 3-2 vote, with members Gene Hamby, Gene Johnson and Alan Williams backing the annexation and Eddie Simpson and Mickey McNabb opposing.

The 209 acres, on two separate parcels between U.S. highways 321 and 70 just east of Interstate 75, are considered a catalyst for commercial and residential activity in rapidly growing Loudon County.

"It's very much the Turkey Creek style, but much smaller," Loy said of Creekwood Park.

Loy and Hale estimate their project could generate annual sales tax revenue of more than $1.3 million for Lenoir City.

Sales tax estimates were calculated by Nashville engineering firm Lose & Associates Inc. based on the types and sizes of businesses planned for Creekwood.

In addition, city and county property taxes from the development could exceed $2.3 million annually, according to Loudon County Economic Development Agency Director Pat Phillips. He based the estimate on the $250 million combined value for the developed land and buildings.

Hale said Creekwood Park has verbal commitments from interested companies but would not name them.

A site plan designed by The Edge Group of Nashville includes two "big-box" anchor businesses on the tract as well as strip retail, office and restaurant space and hotels on approximately 90 acres. The rest will be used for multi-family condos or townhouses and single-family homes. About 40 acres of the complex are zoned residential.

A 17-acre lake converted from an abandoned quarry and green space around Town Creek for walking and picnic areas are also planned.

"We're very anxious to see this come about because it will mean so much to our local economy," Loy said, adding that he doesn't believe the development will adversely affect schools or residences.

Loy said other developers have for years unsuccessfully tried to marry the separately owned parcels into a single project. Creekwood Park LLC has been trying to acquire the land for 18 months.

In June, city council approved contracts with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Creekwood Park LLC to extend Adesa Boulevard through the property. This $5.2 million project will be funded by $2 million from TDOT and $3.2 million from Creekwood and city tax revenue generated from the development.

Loy and Hale want TDOT to begin road construction in October - which would precede commercial development - but city council first must obtain right-of-way easements from affected property owners.

City attorney Shannon Littleton obtained council permission to send a letter to landowners who may have to provide easements for the Adesa extension.

Simpson and McNabb said they voted against the annexation because of zoning and right-of-way concerns. Simpson said he also voted against a plan of services for the development, citing Lenoir City Utilities Board questions about whether new-connection fees for city sewer service and water-connection fees need to be increased.

City Council approved the plan of services by a 4-to-1 vote, with Simpson opposing.

Simpson questioned whether the city could supply sewer service to such a large project. He voted for the plan of services on first reading July 24.

"I just voted according to my conscience," Simpson said.