Developer plans restaurant/apartments for old Masengill's building

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) - A developer has big plans for a downtown Johnson City building that holds decades of rich history.

The old Masengill's building is on the corner of East Main Street and South Roan Street in the heart of the city.

The store closed its doors earlier this year after over 100 years in business.

News Channel 11's Justin Soto found out the developer wants to preserve some of that history.

Masengil's was the place to shop in the early 1900's.

There was an auction in February to sell the final items like furniture, mirrors and mannequins.

It's a building that has so much life.

The developer plans to reimagine the space we all know.

David Ross of Asheville based Falcon Construction is giving us our first look inside the old Masengill's building. He purchased the building for $590,000 in August.

"The bones of the building work very well for redevelopment," Ross said.

He imagines a restaurant space on the ground floor.

"We'll design it to have the ability to be either one or two," Ross said.

10 apartments on the second and third floors are also part of the $1.1 to $1.2 million project.

"We're looking at the shell. Trying to strip the carpet, trying to figure out basically what we have here," Ross said.

Preserving the building's rich history is a priority.

"There's actually a 20% federal rebate back to us for doing a historic tax credit project," Ross said.

Nearby businesses are on board.

"Especially so close to us because that means there are people downtown that need morning coffee before they go to class or to work," a manager at Dos Gatos, Beka Addison-Browder said.

We also spoke to Bernina In Stitches nearby.

"I think if you tried to go back with the same thing, it wouldn't have that same feel and this will give it a new life," Bernina In Stitches Owner, Jennie Ross said.

It's a project Ross hopes will continue the momentum downtown.

"We're also hoping that this will spur more redevelopment of the downtown area and maybe open up for us to do more projects in this area," David Ross said.

Something else we asked Ross about was parking downtown with the new project coming up.

He said parking is an issue in the area and he's looking to talk to the city about ways to provide additional public parking.

Ross plans to have this project complete within the next eight months to one year.

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