KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – For this week’s Mondays on Main, News Channel 11’s Kelly Grosfield took a trip to the Model City to check in on the progress being made in downtown Kingsport.
New businesses, construction, and a variety of murals are just a few of the many things the downtown area has to offer. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many businesses to close their doors for good, some people used this time to follow their dreams of opening their own small business.
Nikkei Lyons owns Pawsitive Ambitions Dog Spa that recently opened in Downtown Kingsport this past June. She said starting her own business, especially during a pandemic was a scary process. However, Lyons said she had great support from other downtown businesses that pushed her into making her dream become a reality.
Now, as a downtown business owner, she said she finally sees all the area has to offer. “Downtown Kingsport is wonderful. I’ve lived here all my life and I never knew how wonderful downtown Kingsport was until I started working down here,” said Lyons.
Her best advice for other businesses starting out is to do your research and take advantage of business resources.
Lyons wasn’t the only one to open her own small business in the downtown area, but Audrey Russell, who has lived in Kingsport for over six years also started her own business called Sugar High Kitchen.
While Sugar High Kitchen isn’t officially open to the public yet, she said she’s already fulfilling orders. She has a storefront right in the heart of downtown and is still finalizing things before opening, but she’s making sure to complete orders of her delicious treats first.
She makes a variety of sweets and can place a custom design or logo on these desserts. It’s business like these that will draw people to the downtown area, according to officials with the Kingsport Chamber.
“Downtown Kingsport is always changing. There’s a lot of new places that have opened recently and are planning on opening over the next month,” said the Owner of Sugar High Kitchen, Audrey Russell.
To order, you can contact Russell via phone at 423-724-7474 or direct message on Instagram @sugarhighkitchen.
However, it’s not only about the new businesses in downtown Kingsport. Carriage House has been downtown for over 40 years. The store itself has moved locations four times with the most recent move happening within the past month. No matter what the building is that houses the local shop, downtown Kingsport will always be where owner Terri Jones calls home.
“Always been downtown, always will be downtown but now just in a fresh, new location,” said Jones.
Along with the introduction of new businesses, soon downtown Kingsport will be taking on new construction. Officials with the city said a redevelopment project along Main Street is in the works. The project would make much-needed infrastructure repairs and once completed, landscaping and beautification would take place.
“We will be digging up the road, preparing the subsurface, with that will be some underground utilities and you can see the relocating of the powerlines already starting to happen,” said Kingsport City Manager Assistant, Jessica Harmon.
The construction will take place along Main Street from the tip of Sullivan Street all the way down to the turn on Clinchfield. Officials expect to break ground in the Spring of 2021 and estimate the entire project taking about 2 years.
Other projects being discussed includes connecting the Brickyard field properties to downtown with the addition of green space, possible housing units, and even the possibility of a pedestrian bridge to connect it all.
“With an influx of new residents adjacent to our downtown, we saw the value of a pedestrian bridge coming and linking downtown with this development so all of that will be a great benefit to our downtown,” said Harmon.
Harmon said this development project would go hand in hand with the main street development project but this project is still in the request for proposal (RFP) process.
The city has also seen tremendous growth in terms of the mural project. Robin Cleary, the Executive Director of the Downtown Kingsport Association, said they started with around eight and now have over twenty murals that bring people into the downtown area.
“You see families, you see folks of all ages out in our downtown and that’s because we have something to offer for just about everyone,” said Cleary.