By Scott Roberston
The terms of a $1.2 million tax increment funding package for the former Model Mill property on West Walnut Street and its surrounding outparcels are headed to the Washington County Commission for approval. The terms passed the commission’s Commercial, Industrial and Agriculture (CIA) Committee last Thursday, then received Budget Committee approval yesterday morning.
The TIF, which comes to the commission from the Johnson City Development Authority, will help R&G Ventures purchase and renovate the property currently owned by the Chamber of Commerce Serving Johnson City, Jonesborough and Washington County. R&G is a partnership between Rab and Grant Summers, owners of Summers Taylor, which plans to move its headquarters from Elizabethton to the mill once the property is renovated and repaired.
Grant Summers showed the CIA Committee pictures of the portion of the mill damaged by fire the night of Sept. 26. Commissioner Lynn Hodge told Summers that constituents had expressed concerns to him that insurance payments from the fire might cover some of the costs the county is being asked to help with in the TIF.
Summers said the insurance is unlikely to do so, saying the TIF is, at least in part, to address issues regarding environmental cleanup of the brownfield site.
“There were underground fuel tanks, boilers, clinker, railroads,” Summers said. “There’s migration of heavy metals from other sites, all of which can be dealt with. It just costs money.”
“Nobody would take this on if they had the full risk of finding contaminated soil that would have to be hauled off for millions of dollars,” Summers said.
“So,” Hodge asked, “you’ve anticipated a certain amount of that?”
“Yes,” Summers replied, “and that’s exactly what the TIF is going to overcome. There’s hundreds of thousands of dollars to remediate paint and ground and all these other things.”
The full commission is scheduled to consider the TIF Oct. 24 at its regularly scheduled meeting.