JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – It might be a bit behind schedule, but progress continues to be made on “The Henry on Main” project in downtown Johnson City.
“It’s been an interesting process and quite the learning curve, but we’re proud of it and we’re enjoying it,” Universal Companies president Shane Abraham said.
Abraham told News Channel 11 on Wednesday that the project is fully into the construction stage.
“We just finished up all the remediation for asbestos and things and demo[lition] on the old Hands-On building and the old JC Penney building,” Abraham said.
Revitalizing a section of the city in which he grew up has been exciting for Abraham, but it hasn’t been easy.
“It’s not like new construction,” he said. “You get through the remediation and the demolition phases, and sometimes what you have in the bones of those old buildings are not what you thought you had and what you’re designing around.”
Still, five of the planned loft apartments are already built and occupied. The remaining 29 units are starting to take shape, but they likely won’t be ready for another nine months.
“We’re thinking early summer, which gets into the moving season,” Abraham said. “So a late spring, early summer.”
New businesses won’t have to wait that long, however. Abraham confirmed they are constructing two buildouts in the lower level of the old Hands-On building to accommodate a pair of new businesses that could open in the next 60 days or so.
“Even through all the harsher months of the pandemic, there’s been a lot of activity still,” Abraham said. “People want to be downtown, people are really enjoying the parks down there and all the other different businesses and vendors and things.”
Vibes Nails and Lotion Bar is one of those businesses already in on the ground floor of the project, along with Levels Barbershop and Flashback Heat. Owner Jennifer Parker is thrilled at the prospect of continued Main Street growth.
“It’s such a creative and diverse environment, and the support system downtown is just phenomenal,” she said. “Every business down here supports each other and you couldn’t ask for a better place to be.”
Dianna Cantler of the Johnson City Development Authority also told News Channel 11 that the benefits of increased residents and local businesses downtown will be felt by the entire community.