JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Ashe Street Courthouse, an important piece of the West Walnut Street re-development project, is now one step closer to having a new owner.

Washington County owns the property currently, but county commissioners voted Monday night to establish a special committee to transfer ownership to Johnson City.

The Ashe Street Courthouse Project Special Committee consists of three Johnson City representatives and two Washington County representatives.

City Manager Cathy Ball, Assistant City Manager Randy Trivette, and Mayor Joe Wise will represent Johnson City on the committee. County Commissioner Jodi Jones and Mayor Joe Grandy will represent Washington County.

Those five will decide the terms of the transfer from the county to the city over the next month.

Ball said the old courthouse will become the business hub for the re-developed West Walnut Street. She said it will be a place to cultivate businesses along that stretch.

“Creating really a location where we would have a space for people to come and get advice on something they were working on, a project, or a business that they wanted to start,” Ball said.

Grandy said the county is ready to move forward with the long-awaited transfer. Even if the county is no longer involved with the courthouse, he said the county can still benefit from the renovation.

“You don’t need two governments trying to figure exactly what to do to it or utilization of space,” Grandy said. “It’s going to benefit every citizen in Washington County. And that type of growth and that type of economic stimulus is what’ll help keep our taxes low here in Washington County and Johnson City.

Ball said some preliminary work has been done with asbestos abatement and interior demolition to prepare the courthouse for the full renovation, but there is still plenty of work to do inside and outside the building.

A $5 million grant from the state will pay for those renovations.

“It’s in need of a lot of care in terms of demolition and rebuilding, so it will take the full $5 million to be able to create the interior the way that it needs to be done as well as create the outside area so it becomes very iconic for the community,” Ball said.

Ball said the courthouse will become the anchor of the downtown end of the West Walnut Street project with a pedestrian-only space in front of the building.

After the transfer is complete, Johnson City’s next step is sending a request for proposals to find a tenant to create the business incubator.

The committee will have its first meeting on Friday to work on the terms of the transfer.

Washington County commissioners will vote on approving the terms at a meeting next month.