Officials in Bristol have announced that Cabela’s will anchor a shopping development in the city.
According to a city press release, construction on the store could start as soon as next summer, with a target opening date of October 2014.
The nearest Cabela’s is a store that just opened in Charleston, W. Va., about three hours from Roanoke.
There are two Bass Pro Shops super stores within three hours of Roanoke, one near Charlotte and another in Richmond.
Bristol officials are counting on the Cabela’s location to be more than just a big retail store, but for it to be a tourist draw.
That the stores will draw big tourist crowds is often cited by Cabela’s and Bass Pro leaders as they seek store locations, with their decisions often hinging on generous financial incentive packages. However, some analyses, including one cited in this recent article, dispute the idea that public investment in the large stores is a wise investment.
Here’s the full release from Bristol:
Bristol Virginia Lures Cabela’s To The Falls
BRISTOL, VA – The City of Bristol, Virginia has lured an important anchor store to a new retail tourism site located on 140 acres within the city’s limits. City officials announced today that signed documents are in hand from outdoor outfitter giant, Cabela’s, who will be the first of two anchor stores at The Falls. With 38 retail stores worldwide, the Bristol store will be the first Cabela’s in Virginia.
“Cabela’s has a deep customer base not only in and around Bristol but across the region, people who share our passion for the Great Outdoors,” said Tommy Millner, Cabela’s Chief Executive Officer. “These outdoorsmen and women have supported Cabela’s for a long time, shopped with us via our catalog and online, so it was time to bring them the unique Cabela’s retail experience.”
“We are proud that Cabela’s has chosen Bristol as their first location in Virginia,” said Bristol, Virginia Mayor, Jim Steele. “The unique style of their retail locations parallels the natural beauty of Virginia. This, coupled with Cabela’s commitment to providing exceptional experiences for the outdoor enthusiast, makes The Falls a perfect location for a shopping stopover for locals as well as those traveling to Bristol.”
The Falls is a destination retail development located off 1-81 Exit 5 in the City of Bristol, Virginia. With a total project cost of over $200 million, development of the property will occur over three phases, and, when complete, will house 1.47 million square feet of retail space and garner over $500 million in annual sales.
According to Bristol, Virginia City Manager, Dewey Cashwell, The Falls is bigger than just another shopping center.“The Falls is, essentially, a lifestyle center,” Cashwell said.
While Cabela’s neighbors have not been announced, when complete, Cashwell explained The Falls will be home to a diverse offering of retail options, including grocery, apparel, sporting goods and department stores, as well as restaurants and personal care shops. But at the heart of the project, lies an undeniably strong tourism development component.
“We are working closely with Believe in Bristol and the Bristol Convention and Visitors Bureau to develop a welcoming spot for the millions of tourists who will flock to this retail destination each year,” said Cashwell. “One of our goals is to draw people off the interstate have them follow the natural corridor from Exit 5 to our thriving historic downtown district. We will accomplish this with onsite visitor services that will allow The Falls to become a logical point of introduction for the city, and serve as a gateway to the many visitor experiences Bristol has to offer,” he added.
To ease the flow of tourists throughout the city, $12 million of the project is earmarked for substantial improvements to Lee Highway, which will include a series of roundabouts and green spaces that will be both visually appealing while enhancing the infrastructure of the city.
“The Falls is a well-thought out plan for growth, and not something that has hastily been put together,” said Cashwell.
The project actually began in January, as Virginia’s response to Tennessee’s Border Region Retail Tourism Development District Act. This act allows localities in Tennessee, near a state border, to capture state tax revenues associated with new large scale retail and/or tourism developments to pay the local expense of incenting the developing location. Fearing the migration of business to Tennessee, Bristol Virginia Director of Community Development & Planning, Andrew Trivette, wrote a similar bill for Virginia. Under the Virginia bill, Bristol, Virginia is classified as a Development of Regional Impact (DRI), and, as a result, able to keep 100% of sales tax generated from the project to assist with the payment of project costs.
According to Cashwell, the DRI was enthusiastically endorsed by regional legislators, and carries the personal endorsement of Governor Bob McDonnell.
“I congratulate the City of Bristol, VA for designing an innovative new economic development tool that played a key role in landing Cabela’s for this new retail tourism site at The Falls,” said U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), who worked as Virginia Governor to leverage this region’s tourism development opportunities. “Cabela’s will anchor a destination location that should have broad appeal to millions of outdoor enthusiasts from across this region and around the country.”
“What this means is that financing is 100% derived from the sales tax generated by this project,” said Cashwell. “The user fee is being financed by the three million people who visit this destination, not the 18,000 who call it home,” he added. Cashwell explained Bristol, Virginia is the only municipality in the state with this capability.
Site prep and construction of Cabela’s could begin as early as June 2013, with a projected October 2014 opening date.
To move The Falls project forward, Bristol, Virginia City Council members will vote to borrow $25 million in general obligation bonds at the next scheduled City Council meeting to be held on August 28 at 7 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 300 Lee Street, Bristol, Virginia.