Alcoa is giving a thumbs up to a Knoxville-based construction company to build a Blount County headquarters along Pellissippi Parkway, though company officials say the project is not guaranteed to move forward.
Alcoa’s planning commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve a site plan for a Joseph Construction “Blount County headquarters.” The company currently has its main offices in Knoxville and another site in Sevierville.
The Blount site is set to be built off North Star Circle next to Team Health in the Base Point Business Park.
Notes on the request for approval — put together by David Quillin of C2RL Engineering — show plans to build a 29,664 square-foot building set to double as an office and warehouse.
Despite the planning commission’s approval, the construction company may not actually move to Alcoa, according to officials at Joseph.
In a phone interview with The Daily Times, company president Justin Marcus said the site plan was a “placeholder” and that the company’s owner had not decided on a use for the land.
“We’re not actually really doing anything,” Marcus said. “Our owner ... also owns property out there. He has an idea to do building out there, maybe for us. We don’t know who it’s going to be for. And so he just put our name on it for right now.”
He said the building itself, whose designs were specific enough to pass planning approval, is also just a placeholder.
Marcus also asked The Daily Times to withhold publishing anything about about the project, even though it was presented in a public forum.
Business records show Joseph Construction’s registered agent is Joe Zappa: Zappa is also the Founder of Joseph Construction. He is also listed elsewhere as the contact for Stock Creek Properties Partnership, which is in turn, shown by Tennessee property records to be the owner of a majority of the land surrounding the proposed headquarters.
Alcoa city planner Jeremy Pearson said in an interview he did not know the site plan was meant to be simply a placeholder.
“I’m not aware of that,” Pearson said. “I can say that it’s not uncommon that sometimes they may go through a certain amount of engineering costs and ... go to a certain level of expense, take it through the process knowing that ... they can make this work for them.”
Pearson said that even though it was the planning commission’s understanding the project was going to be a new local headquarters for the business, the owners could change their minds and their plans.
“We’re not necessarily concerned about who’s occupying it, our concern is that it meets the zoning criteria,” Pearson said.
He added that he knew parties involved in the project were still evaluating, but not to the extent indicated by Marcus.
Should the site owners make any further changes to the project, abandoning or altering the proposed headquarters for another building, those changes would have to be approved by Alcoa planning commissioners.
Alcoa city officials have repeatedly emphasized the important role local businesses play in maintaining a balanced budget in 2020.
The city was nearly $1 million in the red during the 2019 fiscal year and is pinning its hopes on development in several areas to bring in more property and sales tax revenue.
In other action Thursday, planning commissioners:
• Approved a request by Jimmy Hill or Roane Land Surveying to plat all utility easements and site improvements for Enterprise Rent-a-Car development at 2306 Alcoa Highway
• Approved a request by Timothy Howell of Tennessee Land Development services to re-plat/reconfigure two lots, McClain and Harbour’s Gate Properties, 2426 and 2428 Airbase Road.