Bristol, Virginia wins big in city court and Richmond

BRISTOL, Va. - The City of Bristol, Virginia cleared two major hurdles standing in the way of the biggest retail development in city history in the span of two hours Friday afternoon.
"Huge day for the city" said Mayor Guy Odum.

Judge Sage Johnson dismissed a lawsuit at against the city at 2 p.m. that claimed a $10 million bond issue for improvements to Lee Highway leading to The Falls development was invalid.

Johnson's ruling came on the heels of state delegates passing Senate Bill 673, a bill that gives the Bristol access to sales tax revenue needed to pay back money borrowed for the project.

Mayor Odum told News 5 Governor Terry McAuliffe's intervention may have saved The Falls.

"It revived it. We were on life support," said Odum. "The governor who did not win the popular vote in this area stood up and said 'I'm going to make it a priority to get jobs back in Southwest Virginia.'"

The next step for the project is turning the property deed over to Cabela's so construction can start on the building.

Even though The Falls can move ahead, Senate Bill 673, takes Washington County, Virginia out of the equation for sales tax revenue from The Falls.

County Administrator Jason Berry said losing access to the money is not a concern. the the city and the county still have a revenue sharing agreement in place for the next seven years.

"The development that occurs in Washington County and the City of Bristol compliments each other and at the end of the day more feet on the street means more tax dollars for both communities," said Berry.

Senate Bill 673 now heads to Governor McAuliffe's desk for signature.

Bristol leaders plan to give bond issuers the go ahead to sell the much-needed revenue bonds.

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