The Kingsport Riverwalk Project

Kingsport Riverwalk Project

Kingsport Landing Redevelopment Area


The Kingsport Riverwalk Project s a 20-year phased redevelopment plan for the parks, businesses, and residencies along the riverfront area of Kingsport.  The Riverwalk will stretch from Confluence Park, by the Rotherwood Bridge, to Cloud Park and Industry Drive on the east side of Kingsport.  The project will help celebrate the heritage and restore the tradition of Kingsport as the "Model City".  The plan is flexible enough to accommodate unanticipated opportunities or constraints.  The Riverwalk Project is crucial for determining both high quality public places and dynamic private developments throughout the waterfront district.  The Riverwalk Project will consist of seven districts which will be separate areas with am emphasis on their own unique characteristics. These areas are Confluence Park, Day Use Park, Boat Yard Park, the Netherland Inn Complex and Neighborhood, Heritage Park, Kingsport Landing Redevelopment and Connections East.  The goal of the project is to reestablish Kingsport's identity as a waterfront city and gives a nod to the historic role the area played as a boatyard and ferry landing.

Generations ago Kingsport, Tennessee established a reputation for taking bold actions to turn natural assets into economic generators, and to create a high quality of life for all its citizens. From the era of flat boat commerce to the creation of a model city to a focus on education and economic competitiveness, Kingsport looks to capitalize on what makes the city unique and special. With that in mind, several years ago, city leaders began considering how to turn an underutilized and neglected asset, the historic waterfront district on the Holston River, into a place that would generate pride and respect as well as economic benefit.

Guided by the King's Port on the Holston Committee, a citizen group, the city issued a request for proposals and selected an experienced consultant team, led by Kennedy, Coulter, Rushing & Watson in Chattanooga to work hand in hand with the community in creating a 15-year master plan for the waterfront district.

The long term goal of the plan was to be "the creation of a vibrant mountain and river destination focusing on entertainment, shops, outdoor activities, art and heritage in a neighborhood environment that will be the premier gathering place for the region."

Citizen Input

Citizen input was vital to the scope and breadth of the Riverwalk Project.  Substantive citizen input throughout the planning process of the project was a major priority of the city.  Between January 22 and May 16th consultant team conducted a series of one-on-one interviews, focus group meetings and large public meetings.  The city hired consultants to oversee and help implement the initial planning process.  The consultants met with the King's Port of the Holston Committee, the Greenbelt Advisory Committee, the Public Art Committee, KINETIC, business leaders, Native American representatives, economic development representatives and city staff from Public Works, Planning, Metropolitan Planning Organization, etc.  Public Meetings were held on January 23, March 12 and May 15, 2008, to collect input from the citizenry for the areas considered for redevelopment, the planning of these suggestions, and to review the proposed long ranged plan for the redevelopment. The considerable public input received during the planning process served to underscore the overall long term vision articulated at the outset by the city.  Citizens said they wanted their waterfront to be a great place in the heart of the region, themed by heritage, recreation, arts and culture, becoming a vibrant river and mountain destination focusing on entertainment, shops, outdoor activities, art and heritage in a neighborhood environment.

Plan Principles

1. Honor the landscape, the river and history.
2. Be authentic to the people and the place.
3. Be a place for everyone.
4. Be a whole place.
5. Be of top quality.
6. Contribute to the prosperity of the community.
7. Be doable.

Confluence Park

Confluence Park represents the more rural of the two major gateways to the Riverwalk.  With the TDOT construction of a new bridge on Netherland Inn Road, the existing bridge converts to pedestrian use and links to Confluence Park by an extended section of the Greenbelt.  With the removal of the rocky hill now separating Netherland Inn Road from the river, a whole new relationship with both rivers is possible.  Visitors to the area will see a beautiful park ahead of them, edged by the joining of the North and South Forks of the Holston River.  This location was the site of the Battle of Kingsport during the Civil War and will be a key stop on the Greenbelt walkway tour.

Confluence Park Concept
Confluence Park Aerial
Confluence Park Concept

Day Use Park

This flat stretch of riverfront will boast a upgraded Greenbelt, an improved parking area, a boat launch ramp, an expanded picnic area, improved public shelters, rest rooms, and a designated play area.  The history of the ferry landing will be interpreted here with emphases on the key role the area played as a crossroads for both Native Americans and early pioneers such as Daniel Boone.  The entire area offers opportunities for waterborne recreation programming such as flatboat festival activities, canoe races, and fishing competitions.

Boatyard Park

Boatyard Park and Netherland Inn will become a seamless area of activity rather than two separate places. The only place in the nation that was both a stagecoach stop and a flatboat yard will embody that history in a whole new way. Netherland Inn Road will curve slightly toward the Holston River in front of the inn. The river's banks will be planted at intervals with native vegetation to create natural habitat. The Greenbelt will be enhanced with overlooks, seating, signage and public art.

Two wharves in the approximate locations of historic wharves will offer opportunities for boater access to the park and Netherland Inn and make great places for exhibiting, building and getting on and off flatboats and other watercraft. They will make the river more attractive for kayaks, canoes and bank fishing. The locations of large historic warehouses that stored goods for flatboat transport during the high water season will be interpreted by stone outlines of the warehouses at water's edge. No place in the United States has an annual flatboat race or festival. Kingsport Landing will be perfect for this kind of activity, which can put the city on the map, attract visitors and engage children and adults alike in learning about the area's history. Historic interpretation of flatboat transport, early industries, the stagecoach era, and historic structures such as the Hoffman House, the Patton Store and the Lynn house will add layers of meaning to the experience.

Further east, a new park access road will add parallel parking spaces and improve accessibility and security. The park will have an improved picnic area, enhanced play area, river swings, seating and riparian planting. The existing tunnel connection under Netherland Inn Road will be improved to provide a pedestrian connection to the neighborhood and historic cemetery on the ridge above.

Boatyard Park Aerial Boatyard Park Concept
Boatyard Park Aerial
Boatyard Park Concept

Netherland Inn Complex and Neighborhood

Netherland Inn Complex and Neighborhood will retain its status as one of the most significant historic sites of the 18th and 19th centuries and become a more prominent place in the region. This will be done by improving and expanding its setting and its historic connection to the river, making it not only the center of a new neighborhood but a center of commerce with the potential for restaurants, bed and breakfast inns, and new exhibit, museum and event space. With improvements to Netherland Inn Road and Boatyard Park, Netherland Inn will no longer be at the edge of the road or the edge of the park, but in the very center of a vibrant revitalized district.

The most Significant change will be the slight bowing of the Netherland Inn Road toward the Holston River to create a more generous front yard for the inn. The visual quality of the area will be improved by moving the above ground utility lines. There will also be on street parking, sidewalks, crosswalks and street trees to help calm traffic. With ample parking along an improved and expanded east-west access road north of the inn, the immediate vicinity becomes a place that will accommodate frequent festivals such as the Teddy Bear Tea, the Fiddler's Festival, a new Flatboat Fest, and others that could be staged in the re-planted plaza area north of the Inn. People can walk along pleasant pedestrian connections from parking to the river or down an improved Lilac Street. Lilac Street will connect the existing Inn to its expanded western campus, where gardens will be laid out and larger rotating or special exhibits of Netherland Inn life will take place. Large groups can be accommodated here for special events.

Further west a new neighborhood develops with the possibility of extending the historic character in new residential units facing the river with generous riverfront porches and rear parking. On the opposite side of the Inn, Inn-related commercial and residential uses will develop that take advantage of the proximity to the river and the parks. It's an excellent location for a restaurant on Netherland Inn Road and has sufficient parking. This restaurant could cater special events at the Netherland Inn complex and serve one or more bed and breakfast inns. These uses are compatible with nearby residential uses. Up to 24,000 square feet of new residential and commercial space could develop here. The neighborhood to the east will experience infill residential development and housing upgrades as well.

Existing Netherland Inn Road Revised Netherland Inn Road
Existing Netherland Inn Road
Revised Netherland Inn Road

Heritage Park

Heritage Park on the western end of Long Island of the Holston is a uniquely rich historic open space resource at Kingsport Landing. Heritage Park will be connected to Boatyard Park by the improved existing pedestrian bridge, and to Kingsport Landing Park across two new pedestrian bridges over Hubbard Island. Drivers will reach Heritage Park from a new parking area north of the current ball fields. A linear park along Tilthammer Shoals will provide access to picnic areas, rest rooms, a destination playground and riverwalk.

For centuries, Long Island was an important place to Native Americans. Recently, representatives from the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes-the Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the United Keetoowah Band -confirmed that Long Island is one of their three most sacred sites. Kingsport was decades ahead in honoring its Native American history with its gift of land on Long Island to the Eastern Band in 1976. Heritage Park will honor the sacred nature of the island by interpretive exhibits of its Native American past and recognition that Native American culture is alive and well today. This outdoor museum will incorporate the current 1976 monument and provide interpretive planting areas. public art, a plaza at the pedestrian bridge landing and a new forest buffer between the ball fields and the park.

The desire to use a portion of the island for passive activities fits well with the opportunity to replant native vegetation and trees of importance to Native American cultures. Few public places with these plantings now exist. Native American artists could visit the park to harvest plants for their traditional crafts. Children could learn the importance of habitat preservation while learning about Native American culture. The large open space could be used for demonstration of Native American games and sports such as stickball, an activity that complements Kingsport's popularity for amateur sports competitions. Along the river, the walk will reach through the natural berm to provide connections to the river itself, with public art and interpretive exhibits that tell how the Cherokee people live today.

Heritage Park Aerial Heritage Park Concept
Heritage Park Aerial
Heritage Park Concept

Kingsport Landing Redevelopment Area

Kingsport Landing Redevelopment Area will be critical in making Kingsport's 21st century waterfront as important an economic generator as it was in the 1700's. And because the redevelopment will require a long range build out, some existing uses, such as residential, can remain in place for the foreseeable future. City ownership of key parcels, adjacent Greenbelt connections, and the need to make changes to the Netherland Inn Road, Industry Drive and Center Street intersection create near term opportunities.

Kingsport Landing Park, reached from Netherland Inn Road and Industry Drive, and by pedestrians via the Greenbelt and across Hubbard Island, will be a unique festival space with breathtaking views of Bays Mountain,
Long Island and the Holston River. The Greenbelt will be extended along the river and Reedy Creek. This 2+ acre park will be as comfortable for a picnic and Frisbee game as it will for 5000 at a waterfront festival. The temporary addition of a band shell or stages will easily convert the passive space into an active event space with a dramatic backdrop of mountains. The park will also contain pavilions, seating, rest rooms, an interactive fountain, river access and pedestrian walkways. Across Industry Drive could be a large special event parking area in the short term.

Significant opportunities exist on both sides of Netherland Inn Road and Industry Drive for private mixed use development to frame the streets in a new way and border a signature park at the River's edge. The private development is at a reasonable scale and mass, and construction can be phased. The neighborhood will provide a range of retail and housing options, from waterfront restaurants on the Greenbelt to three-story buildings with views of the park and the river, and parking underneath waterfront townhouses and apartments. Parking will be ample but scattered among the buildings. The public nature of the river's edge is preserved, and building placement allows for views of the river and park from Netherland Inn Road and Industry Drive. Approximately 174 housing units and 52,000 square feet of retail can be accommodated in the redevelopment area.

Kingport Landing Park
Kingsport Landing Park Concept

Connections East

Connections East serves as the more urban gateway to Kingsport landing. It will be a high quality connector to downtown and ultimately to Cement Hill. Downtown and Kingsport Landing will be an integrated and complementary experience for residents as well as visitors. Road and street improvements, and the expansion of Cloud Park are key to the success of this area. As recommended in the 2002 Neel-Schaffer transportation study, modest changes to the Netherland Inn Road, Industry Drive and Center Street intersection will significantly improve traffic flow. This will be a signalized intersection with separate turn lanes on Industry Drive and Netherland Inn Road. Eventually, a new connector between Stone Drive and Center Street going south along Riverside and Plantation and entering Center Street at West Sullivan and Fairview will take much through traffic off Netherland Inn Road along the river. To better connect with downtown, streetscape improvements, including sidewalks, crosswalks and street trees will enhance Center Street, and curb cuts will be limited to reduce traffic congestion. The Lynn Garden, West Stone Connector and Fort Robinson intersections will be made more attractive with a gateway element to the district at Lynn Garden. The Greenbelt will be improved and completed from Cloud Park to Kingsport landing Park.

Cloud Park will be expanded through the existing adjacent parking lot and will contain upgraded facilities and landscape improvements to establish it as a major passive park. It will contain multipurpose lawns, pavilions, rest rooms and picnic facilities, and parking will help serve special events at Kingsport Landing Park.  Along Center Street and the Greenbelt between Cloud Park and Kingsport Landing will be new mixed-use private development that helps link the downtown and the waterfront. This area can contain approximately 17,000 square feet of primarily office and retail use.

Streetscape improvements will stretch east along Industry Drive to Cement Hill. Enhancements will include street trees, sidewalks, tree screening of adjacent uses, and limited driveway cuts. This will help create a more attractive connection to Cement Hill and enhance its future development potential. In the short term more attractive and durable trees and undergrowth will be established on Cement Hill. Across Industry Drive from Kingsport Landing Park at the Netherland Inn intersection, another development opportunity exists to help frame up the development across the street edging the park. This area could support approximately 11,000 square feet of retail and office development.

Connections East Aerial
Connections East Aerial


Kingsport Contact Info


1st Floor, City Hall


225 West Center St.
Kingsport, TN 37660



(423) 229-9400


(423) 229-9350