Big day for retail: Groundbreaking held at The Downs at Wallace Farms
Citing Wednesday as “a big day for retail,” Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce President Marshall Ramsey welcomed representatives of local city, county and state government to the 10:30 a.m. groundbreaking ceremony held under clear skies on a parcel of the property known as The Downs at Wallace Farms.
The ceremony was held to celebrate the first development and marketing phase of The Downs at Wallace Farms. The Downs, located at 25E and Interstate 81 at Exit 8 and referred to by ceremony speakers as the Gateway Commercial Development, will encompass 48 acres of the approximately 400 acres of Wallace family owned property that will be developed over the next five to 10 years.
“I know what excitement is, and we are excited …” Jerry Holloway, broker with Oliver Smith Realty, said. The Knoxville agency is a full service commercial real estate company that operates throughout the southeast United States and will be representing the development.
“We are getting a lot of attention from those who we have contacted,” Holloway said. He added that the lot on which the ceremony took place has a commitment from a financial institution.
Hardees and Fastop have relocated from across 25E, due to the Exit 8 TDOT construction project, and two more lots in The Downs development are currently under contract, according to Holloway.
The extensive road construction, along with the new traffic signal system providing direct access to 25E, created the optimal timing for the new expansion.
Rows of seats set up in direct view of the East Tennessee mountainscape were filled with supportive Wallace family members, including matriarch Paula Wallace, the wife of the late John D. Wallace, Morristown industry and civic leader and well-known philanthropist.
Also attending were Morristown City Council members, Hamblen County Commission members, industrial development board members, Chamber staff and ambassadors and other members of the community.
On the dais with Ramsey were Dr. Dean Haun, First Baptist Church of Morristown, who provided the invocation; Morristown Mayor Danny Thomas; Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain; Sen. Steve Southerland; Randy DeBord, 2013 Chamber chairman; Randy Corlew, CDM Smith engineer; R. Jack Fishman, Industrial Development Board chairman; Oliver Smith, Oliver Smith Realty; and Doyle M. Wallace, president, Wallace Hardware Company Inc.
Referring to his grandfather who began the family’s local business legacy with a 10 percent claim in a 1922 hardware store venture, Wallace said the best thing about the U.S. was the ability to “give people an opportunity.”
In reference to the process of developing the large acreage of land that his father, John D., acquired piece by piece over the years, Wallace said “We’ve had a lot of help,” as he gestured over the crowd of supporters. “We live in a great, great place …”
The Downs is the first portion of the larger Wallace Farms developments proposed, over time, to all four corners of Exit 8 with mixed development including industrial, commercial and residential.
Four jurisdictions will ultimately be involved with the project, including the city of Morristown, White Pine, Hamblen County and Jefferson County.
See the Oct. 3 edition of the Citizen Tribune for more coverage of the ceremony.