Editor’s Note: The Tri-Cities is growing and News Channel 11’s weekly series “Who’s Building That?” uses public documents, research, community connections and hard work to bring you information about who’s building or renovating what, where and for what use. You’ll also get trend data and facts and figures about project costs and potential property tax revenue as well as trend data. Don’t drive by and wonder anymore!

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — In the case of Jonesborough and residential property, the answer to “who’s building that” is — more and more contractors all the time.

Multifamily housing development is becoming a familiar sight along Boones Creek Road in Jonesborough. (WJHL photo)

It may have a small fraction of the populations of Kingsport or Johnson City, but Jonesborough is punching above its weight in residential construction permits as 2022 draws to a close.

Recent signs of that growth are along Boones Creek Road just north of downtown, where several sizable apartment complexes that will eventually add more than 100 units are going in, along with one single-family development.

“Multifamily or town homes seems to be very popular among developers,” Town Manager Glenn Rosenoff said.

Tennessee’s oldest town had granted 180 residential permits by the end of November, with a total value of $34.3 million. Even without December figures in, that value is already double 2021’s figure, which was a record year itself.

By number, permits are more than double the 75 pulled in all of 2021 and more than the total number from 2020 and 2021 combined.

“The nice thing about it is that people are landing here from locally or regionally or even other states or other countries and looking at Jonesborough as a very unique destination,” Glenn Rosenoff said.

The numbers for a town of just less than 6,000 nearly rival those of Johnson City, which is roughly 12 times Jonesborough’s size. Johnson City had 201 single-family and townhouse permits worth $58.8 million through November, along with apartment permits worth another $4.3 million.

Kingsport, which is about 10 times Jonesborough’s population, had 259 permits worth $60 million through October.

Rosenoff said the growth is creating plenty of challenges for city staff and the board of mayor and aldermen.

“It has created for us a good opportunity for us to look at expanding our infrastructure into the future,” he said. Topics under study range from improving electric transmission lines and upgrading the town’s water plant to roads.

“Our road system now is able to handle most of it, but many of our roads right now are either under study or have conceptual designs to improve them to accommodate the growth,” he said.

Population growth: Fast to faster?

Jonesborough grew faster than any county or city from the 2010 census to 2020, about 16%, but the pace of housing growth in 2022 far exceeds anything from the last few years. From 2020 to 2021 that growth rate nearly doubled, as the town’s population was estimated to grow by 2.8% in just a year.

Rosenoff said the growth creates another challenge — how to retain the charm that is drawing people to Jonesborough even if the town’s growth accelerates.

He said the town has always provided a high level of services and will maintain a focus on attracting and retaining good employees. Beyond that, much will come down to nuts and bolts issues like zoning and building codes, including exterior standards.

“Look in our major commercial corridors is very important in the town so I have drafted design guidelines very similar to other communities around us and nationally that look at certain guidelines for the exterior appearance of buildings,” Rosenoff said.