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Dunkin' Donuts may be headed to Jonesborough

The gateway into Jonesborough may soon look significantly different if leaders agree to sell a portion of town-owned land to the owners of the Shell gas station at the intersection of Highway 11E and Boone Street.
At Monday night’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, officials were expected to consider a proposal from Mountain Empire Oil, the owners of the gas station, to demolish its current convenience center and replace it with a more aesthetically pleasing building. The new gas station would include a Dunkin’ Donuts store as well.
“We are very excited about the potential for them to bring that concept to Jonesborough,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe said. “It would be a tremendous improvement for that intersection.”
In addition to adding a Dunkin’ Donuts at the location, the proposal increases the number of pumps at the gas station. Those pumps, however, would no longer be facing the main intersection into town. Instead, they would all sit under a canopy at the southwest end of the property. Under the preliminary proposal, the back of the building would face the intersection, with the company paying special attention to how the structure and surrounding landscape looks.
Citing Mountain Empire Oil’s previous remodel of its BP Station just down the road near the George P. Jaynes Justice Center, Wolfe said he believes the proposed project would greatly improve the appearance of the Shell station and add to the town’s retail environment.
“We’ve been talking for well over a year with the (Mountain Empire Oil) folks about the possibility of doing work at the Shell station similar to what they did at the BP,” Wolfe said. “In order to do it, they will need to buy additional acreage adjacent to Town Hall and their store.”
The sale of such property, however, has a specific process that must be followed.
“There are a good number of rules and details we have to pay attention to in regards to the sale of publicly owned property,” Wolfe said.
The town has an obligation to go through an open competitive process for potentially selling even a portion of the land. Typically, this means leaders would be required to request proposals to give anyone that is interested an opportunity to present development ideas to the BMA. Interested parties would also have to state what they would pay for the land and offer an explanation of the economic impact of the proposed idea.
Town leaders must also consider just how much land they are willing to sell. In the past, there has been talk of using some of the land to make more space within Town Hall.
“There has been discussion before about the possible expansion of town hall with an additional fire by or an additional room in the police department. We’ve even considered building a small EMS station as part of an agreement to bring an ambulance to Jonesborough,” Wolfe said. “We don’t want to do something that would prohibit that from happening in the future. But I don’t think this would.”
The town currently uses the portion of town land being considered for purchase by Mountain Empire Oil for event parking during Jonesborough Days and the Storytelling Festival.
If the BMA agrees to consider selling a portion of that land, town staff will be instructed to finalize a layout of the needed expansion for the fire department or EMS.
The town will also have to look at maintaining a floodway within the land, Wolfe said.
“This area is the gateway for our downtown and we’re going to watch it very carefully,” he added.