The land appraisal for the site of East Ridge's former fire hall has come in and it's a whopping $603,000.

The land in questions is part of the site where the Bass Pro Shops will be built.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation notified the City of East Ridge of the appraisal Thursday.  

City officials initially understood the land's appraised value to be approximately $603,000 according to a news release.

The appraisal document shows this is the amount that is to be paid to the State of Tennessee.

“Based upon our city's strong financial standing, we have the ability to pay what the state requires in order to lift the restrictions and allow economic development to take place on this property,” said Mayor Brent Lambert.  

Lambert continued, adding, “We fully expect to submit this expense under the Border Region legislation, in which East Ridge is so blessed to be a participant.  The legislation is very complex, but essentially the full amount should be reimbursed by the State of Tennessee through the state's share of sales tax dollars generated inside our city.”

The former fire hall property was purchased by the city from TDOT in 1999. 

East Ridge paid a negotiated price equal to 29% of the appraised value and accepted restrictions on how the property was to be used in the future.  The City applied to have the restrictions lifted so that the property could be included in the new Jordan Crossing development at Exit 1.

TDOT's Excess Land Committee agreed to lift the restrictions but decided the City would have to pay 71% of the land's current appraised value.  

PREVIOUS STORY: There's a slight snag in the line with the property where one day a local bass pro shops will stand.

As we reported Thursday, the store in East Ridge is scheduled to be complete in the summer of 2016.
But Channel 3 learned Friday the city of East Ridge is now having to pay more money for the land where the future store will sit.

When the city bought the land from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the agreement said the land needed to be used to build a new Fire Hall, now 15 years later, after the deal was signed with Bass Pro Shop, TDOT called the East Ridge Mayor and said there was a problem.

"We were unaware of that restriction until after the Bass Pro announcement," said Mayor Brent Lambert, "After the incentive agreement had been reached."
Bass Pro Shops is being built on a 30-acre lot the city bought from TDOT.
The land in question is only a five-acre portion that used to house a fire hall. It was sold to the city back in 1999 for only 29-percent of it's total value, for $50,000 (originally the appraised value was around $150,000).
But the land's latest appraisal shows that five-acre property is now worth about $600,000.

"Back in 1999 it was woodlands and there just wasn't anything there, now as it sits today it's prime commercial real estate," Lambert said.
The city is responsible for paying back the remaining 71 percent, which could be more than $400,000.
Mayor Lambert says the city has the money in reserve funds to pay back the difference.

"Let's get this issue straightened out, let's get it cleared up and the money is paid, but let's also talk about how we can we can maybe come back and tweek it a little bit."

The city could get reimbursed through future sales tax since the deal impacts economic development.

Mayor Lambert says either way, construction is moving forward.

"We're moving full steam ahead, and the developers obviously are as well, it's just a matter of cutting through some red tape with TDOT," Lambert said.

The mayor says regardless of how much the final bill is, there's no need to raise taxes to pay for it.

Construction for Bass Pro Shops is still on schedule.


ORIGINAL STORY:  People might have notice the tons (literally) of dirt on site of the future Bass Pro Shops in East Ridge.

Channel 3 received several tips questioning the building's progress and wondering if the store is still on track to open.

Regardless of rumors about the store's progress, the development company says Bass Pro Shops is right on schedule, set to open in the summer of 2016.

"I think a lot of times it's hard for people to understand just how slow development occurs," said Mayor Brent Lambert.
East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert says in terms of economic development, opening the doors to Bass Pro Shops is his number one priority.

"A massive amount of work has gone on here and they've got a really nice looking pad over here and we're ready to see Bass Pro come," Lambert said.
Bass Pro Shops signed the deal with Wolftever Development last year to build the 85,000 square foot outdoor retail store.
And since then, people might have noticed all the dirt that's been used to raise the flood plain by about 10 feet.

"We've brought in a lot of dirt, and we've been bringing in a lot of dirt for several months now,"  said John Healy, Wolftever Development, "So it probably does get a little mundane."

Wolftever Development owns an additional 30 acres surrounding the build site and has plans to bring even more big business to East Ridge in the next few years.

"Several restaurants, a hotel, all at the entrance to Camp Jordan Park," Healy said.

"It's going to create a desire on the part of a lot of other retailers to be here," said Lambert, "It's going to be a magnet."

Developers said Cabela's announced its plans to build in Fort Oglethorpe about a year before Bass Pro Shops decided to build in East Ridge. So with a little bit more than a year left to get the job done, developers say they're right on schedule.