Plans moving forward for historic recognition of Hillrise Park/Gump Addition

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The historic zoning commission approved to send a recommendation to the state Tuesday night to approve a nomination for the Hillrise Park/Gump Addition in Johnson City to be recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

City of Johnson City Senior Planner Matt Manley tells News Channel 11’s Blake Lipton a survey conducted on the neighborhood by a Nashville-based consultant shows that the neighborhood met the eligibility requirements for the National Register.

“85% of those are considered contributing,” said Manley, “meaning they’ve retained their historical integrity.”

Manley said the survey, which began in February, looked at 174 homes in the area.

“I think a lot of people are proud of the place where they live,” he said, “and so they want that to be recognized.”

Manley said that historic recognition through the National Registry would not create guidelines or regulations for homeowners.

“The National Register of Historic Places is strictly an honorary designation,” he said. “Property owners are allowed to make any changes they desire, they can even demolish a house.”

The National Park Service does provide information on proper procedures to preserve the historical integrity of structure, but they are not guidelines.

A number of neighbors we spoke with, who did not want to be interviewed on camera, are worried about the long term implications a recognition like this could have.

Many are afraid this could be a gateway to a local historic “designation,” which Manley says would create guidelines to help preserve the district.

We asked Manley if any neighbors have expressed interest in a local historic “designation.”

“There are a few people,” he said. “I haven’t heard a very large majority of folks, but they’re thinking further out in the future, well past their time as owners in that neighborhood and they really care about that place and they want to ensure during their lifetime that it’ll be as it is today for future generations.”

“At this time,” he added, “any local zoning would be inappropriate based on the lack of demand and the lack of threat to the character of the neighborhood.”

Manley also said there is a possibility once the neighborhood is registered, it could be de-listed as an historic district, but said that’s unlikely.

“I think it would take quite a bit of change, that’s very unlikely, once it’s listed for it to be de-listed as a district,” he said. “What could happen is certain properties within that district may go from being contributing, to non-contributing [members of the historic district].”

Factors that could render a home “non-contributing” include home additions and siding or porch modifications that are not architecturally consistent with the home.

Barbara Harkleford with Crye-Leike Realtors has sold homes in the Gump Addition for 23 years.

She said historic recognition could improve property value.

“Possibly they would rise by being in an historic district,” she said.

The state review board for the Tennessee Historical Commission will review the nomination on September 18th.

If approved it would then head to the federal level.

Manley said that it could only be a matter of months before the neighborhood receives that historic recognition.

Hillrise Park/Gump Addition would join the Tree Streets neighborhood as a National Register historic district if the nomination passes final approval.

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