JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Model Mill property on the corner of State of Franklin Road and Sevier Street has been under construction for years.
The 100-year-old facility has seen tough times throughout the years and was an eyesore and an anchor weighing down development in the Walnut Street corridor, according to Grant Summers, the President of Summers-Taylor Incorporated.
Summers-Taylor is the construction firm that purchased the property with a vision to bring it back to life. In the past, the building acted as a canvas for graffiti artists and at one point became a target of arson after a fire heavily damaged the property.
Starting development on this property was a difficult task initially.
“It was pretty rough when we first got in here. There was graffiti, and there was a fire so there was ash and standing water, and pigeons and there was everything in here,” said Summers.
Summers told News Channel 11’s Kelly Grosfield that starting from scratch is far easier than developing an existing property, but he wanted to keep the history of this building intact.
In fact, crews salavaged a number of original features and reincorporated it into today’s design.
Summers said the project took longer than they expected due to a prolonged planning period to perfect details and some minor COVID-19 delays when it came to receiving certain materials.
However, despite the long process, it’s been a rewarding one, according to Summers.
“It’s definitely something we’re proud of. It took a long time, but the product we ended up with is definitely what we wanted,” he said.
Summers was able to move his team into the building on Wednesday, making them the first tenants to inhabit the new space.
Other businesses and organizations are also set to move in such as the ETSU Alumni Association and a bakery in the old mill offices are both expected to arrive in December. In January, the law firm of Baker Donelson will also be moving in.
Summers said there are a couple of spaces that have not been programmed yet, so any interested parties can reach out to him and inquire regarding the space available.
While this property is complete for the most part, pending a few minor interior and exterior touches, Summers said developing this building is the first step in developing the entire Walnut Street corridor.
“We certainly hoped it would be a catalyst and I think it is when talking to people up and down the corridor. I think it’ll spur more development in this area,” he said.
Summers also said they have other parcels on the block available for development but now solid plans regarding those spaces as of right now.