JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Redevelopment plans for the historic John Sevier Center in Johnson City are moving forward.
Friday morning, the Johnson City Development Authority voted to enter into a loan agreement with Home Trust Bank for $4.6 million towards the purchase of the John Sevier Center.
The old hotel has been used as low-income housing for years and currently has 150 residents.
The Johnson City Development Authority began negotiations to purchase the building back in September with a plan to transform it into a retail and residential space, now they’re one step closer to owning the building.
The JCDA hopes to bring new life into the historic building.
“It has beautiful elements and so restoring that building is a priority for the JCDA, as well as being able to create a quality of life and better housing for the 150 residents that live there,” Dianna Cantler with the JCDA said.
Cantler said those residents won’t be moving out until new housing is complete.
“When we bring in a developer for the subsidized housing, they will either build or rehab existing buildings,” Cantler said.
Residents like Sheila Hardin and Lois Barnett said they’re optimistic about the changes.
“We’re hoping to get to move to a better place, a better location, good population,” Hardin said.
They hope to see more modern amenities in their new space.
“We could use a bedroom, bigger kitchen, our own washer and dryer, double sink, a little place to take your animals,” they said.
Cantler said right now the building has 5 washers and dryers for all 150 residents,”That is just not something our community should be proud of,” she said.
The JCDA shared a rendering of what the center could look like once renovated.
They’re hoping for a multi-use space with retail on the first floor, some type of housing, either apartments condos or a boutique hotel, also allowing for office space and space for a restaurant.
It’s a downtown transformation the JCDA said is an important part of Johnson City’s redevelopment district.
County leaders and local business owners hope the project will bring even more people downtown.
“The downtown, it’s an attractor, companies come here when they see a vibrant downtown, and we want to bring more companies here,” Washington County Commissioner and JCDA member Jodi Jones said.
We also spoke to a downtown business owner.
“I’m thrilled to hear that. That will just get more people coming downtown to shop, to eat, take advantage of music venues, and it will just help all of us here,” Atlantis owner Kay Davis said.
JCDA tells us no tax payer dollars will be used to pay back the $4.6 million loan.
The JCDA will begin looking for developers next week with plans to close on the building in the next 2-3 months.
The entire project is estimated to take five years to complete.
Back in February, a vote to use tax increment financing to purchase the building failed, prompting JCDA to look for other partners to acquire the building.