JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – In many cases, the pandemic has put a halt to redevelopment projects, but not in Downtown Johnson City.
A number of projects have been started and some even completed amid this pandemic. While some businesses were unfortunately forced to close their doors amid this pandemic, others used this time to open for the first time, bringing new business and new opportunities to the downtown area.
Watauga Brewing Company opened last week and features the first public rooftop dining experience in the downtown area. However, city officials said it will not be the only one for long.
“They are working on a project that will be the first-floor building then it will have a rooftop as well and they expect to be open in late Spring,” said JCDA Exec. Director, Dianna Cantler.
The Stirfry Group owns the restaurants Southern Craft, Label, and 620 State Street, two of those restaurants located in the heart of downtown Johnson City. Now they plan to open yet another restaurant downtown, this one offering a rooftop experience, according to Cantler, but it’s not the only active project in downtown Johnson City.
Construction can be seen at the old Hands-On museum building with plans to develop the space for both retail and residential opportunities.
“They finished the one-story building, that’s all commercial and small retail spaces, which we need more of. Then on the larger spaces, they are doing commercial businesses on the first floor and residential on the upper floors,” said Matthew Manley, Johnson City Senior Planner.
On the topic of Downtown living, changes are on the way for residents of the John Sevier building. For over a year, the JCDA has been working to find a partner in developing new, safer, and cleaner housing for current residents of the building.
Cantler told News Channel 11’s Kelly Grosfield that recent progress has been made regarding a potential working relationship.
“The JCDA entered into a memorandum of understanding with a company out of Knoxville. Their name is LHP and they are one of the most well-respected subsidized-housing, HUD property owners in the Southeast,” said Cantler.
LHP has 90 days to submit their proposal, which would include the specifics of their plan.
“It could be multiple sites, it could be one site, but it should be new construction for 145 new affordable housing units for the Johnson Sevier community and other residents who need affordable housing in Johnson City,” said JCDA Board Member, Robert Williams.
While creating new housing is the first step, the second step would be renovating the building. Williams said while they haven’t decided what will become of it yet, the possibilities for it, are endless and they’re not ruling out yet another rooftop opportunity.
Signs of progress can be seen throughout Downtown Johnson City.
“Every downtown needs a certain number of anchors to solidify the redevelopment of its downtown. We have that in the Model Mill, we have this beautiful green space that we’re standing in today, and to have the John Sevier as that third anchor will just help solidify Johnson City’s downtown redevelopment,” said Williams.