BRISTOL, Tenn. - The landscape along Exit 74 in Bristol, Tennessee is quickly changing. Click here to view photos of the progress.
Over the past few months crews have moved a half-million cubic yards of dirt to make way for the Pinnacle shopping development. "The idea was to do a regional development," says developer Steve Johnson. "[Other options] to this point was a Johnson City deal, Bristol deal, Kingsport deal."
Ground was officially broken on a new 132,000 square foot Belk store on Wednesday. Belk is moving from its current Bristol Mall location and opening a new store in the Pinnacle in 2015.
"This opportunity was something we are excited about," says Dixie Minatra, vice president and district manager of Belk. The current store in the Bristol Mall will remain open until the new store is complete.
At 250 acres, Steve Johnson says the Pinnacle is the largest development of its kind currently underway in the United States.
Construction is being made possible in part thanks to a special state law that allows a portion of the state sales tax to return to the development. The shopping center is projected to generate more than $300 million dollars in taxable sales revenue and create roughly 2,000 jobs.
With Wednesday's groundbreaking, Belk joins Bass Pro Shops as the only two confirmed businesses to locate there. Developers are currently negotiating with several more stores. "You are going to see lots of lifestyle, specialty retail, restaurants, entertainment," says Johnson
He wants this center to be a regional magnet attracting shoppers from Roanoke to Knoxville; adding an entertainment venue is a natural element to include. "Bristol, Tennessee is the birthplace of country music, so it's the perfect place to have a venue but we are going to be multi-genre," says Johnson.
The first stores in the Pinnacle shopping center are set to open next year with the completion of Bass Pro Shops.
Once construction is complete the Pinnacle will offer more than a million square feet of retail, restaurant, and hotel space.
It's located off Exit 74 of Interstate 81 along Highway 11-W.
In the meantime, it's anticipated to create close more than 2,600 construction jobs.