Developers in ‘preliminary’ stages of renovating downtown Johnson City buildings

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News Channel 11 has confirmed that Mitch Cox Companies and Universal Development and Construction are working together to bring new life to buildings in downtown Johnson City.

Shane Abraham with UDC said they are still in the ‘preliminary’ stages of development.

“This is something that we’re trying to put together downtown. We think it would be good in regards to more housing downtown. Right now everything is really in a conceptual format,” said Abraham.

The buildings they are looking to renovate are in the 300 block of Main Street and include the former JCPenney department store, Woolworths, and the old Sears building. Now, most of the buildings sit empty. 

Johnson City Downtown Development Director, Dianna Cantler, said the development authority would really like to see those building put to multi-use. 

“The properties on East Main Street are owned by the city of Johnson City. Because it takes up so much of the city block, it’s really important for the vibrancy of our historic district. It’s in the central part of our historic district,” said Cantler.

So far the developers have presented the idea to city leaders as a ‘mixed use development’ meaning they would include space for retail, lofts, and parking. 

“We’re just really in the front end of this design, trying to utilize all of the existing historic characteristics of the building,” said Abraham.

Something that Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock says was important to the city.

“These buildings are part of our history. We want, number one, vibrancy on the east end of Johnson City. So, these five building could offer a developer the opportunity to do that. They’ve made us an offer of $600,000 for the bundle of the buildings, and they’ve presented a concept plan that is really exciting to see,” said Brock.

The two developers already presenting their plan to the commission and to Johnson City Downtown Development. 

“They’ve named their project down there ‘The Henry’, which certainly brings in our sesquicentennial and Henry Johnson as our founder. These are local people who live here. Their reputations are at stake. So we know they’re going to do a good job,” Mayor Brock explains. 

Several other offers were made on the building, but none were from developers in the area besides Mich Cox Companies and Universal Development and Construction.

Brock said the other offers ended up withdrawing.

Cantler said that this is a well thought out offer by local developers. 

The Commission will vote on the $600,000 offer on Thursday. Mayor Brock said that the sooner the commission closes on a deal. the better for the city, “The minute we would close on the deal. they immediately go back on the tax rolls. So we as a city would be generating property taxes on them which we aren’t right now.”

Abrahams says that if the commission approves their offer, they will start construction right away, “Hopefully we will get approval from the commission and from there well go quickly into full design. The first couple of building, we would start on immediately, and we would have those fully functioning early next year.”

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