JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Officials with the Johnson City Development Authority announced Monday they have “signed the final papers to purchase the historic John Sevier Center.”
The historic building was a hotel when it was first built in the 1920s.
Now, the building is home to more than 100 low-income residents.
The process took nearly 12 months to purchase the building. JCDA leaders said it could take another 2 years before a developer is selected and any sort of construction begins.
“First and foremost, we’re excited about the opportunity to improve the housing of the current residents,” said JCDA Board Chair Robert Williams. “Secondly, once that’s taken care of, we’re looking forward to seeing this building restored back to its former glory.”
The Johnson City Development Authority signed the final papers to purchase the John Sevier Center on September 5th.
The attention now turns to finding a developer with HUD experience to build new units for the current tenants.
“We’ve already had a couple of parties that are interested in building something new for the residents,” said Williams, “but we’ll probably start that process within the next 90 days to select a developer.”
“We have not opened any of the proposals yet,” said JCDA Vice Chair Brent Long, “we have just been accepting them.”
Williams and Jones estimate it will take at least two years to select the developer, transfer residents and begin construction at the John Sevier Center.
With this purchase, the JCDA is hoping to bring new life to the building with a mix of retail, restaurants and housing.
“If you look at other cities like Greenville, South Carolina, that is the model of downtown re-development,” said Williams. “You’ve got to have anchors, and we’ve got anchors, the model mill that connects ETSU to downtown, we have this beautiful green space with Founders Park and King Commons and now this is going to be the third anchor, the restoration of the John Sevier.”
However, some current residents we spoke with were concerned about the details and difficulty of relocation since a number of them are disabled.
“I have no problem with this,” said John Sevier Center resident Richard Christensen, “just get us some place to go where we could take the bus and get our groceries and stuff.”
We’ve previously reported the entire project is estimated to take five years to complete.
You can watch Monday’s full news conference below on our WJHL Facebook page.