Johnson City’s Best Business Stories from 2021: Visitor Center, West Walnut Growth | News


Seeing its population increase to over 71,000 after the 2020 census, Johnson City has positioned itself for further growth in 2021.

The city has found a new location for its Visitor Center, which has been tucked away for years in the Chamber of Commerce building near City Hall, and has seen businesses flock to West Walnut Street as she is preparing to redevelop the road.

A new reception center

Giving it a more visible downtown presence, the Johnson City Visitors Center will soon be relocating to the two-story portion of the former Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railway depot building at 302 Buffalo St.

For years, the city’s visitor center has been located in the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce building at 603 E. Market St., a location that city officials say does not offer enough visibility.

Johnson City purchased the two-story portion of the building in May for $ 750,000 with the intention of using it to house the Johnson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Johnson City Development Authority, and one or two employees of the Communications Department and of city marketing.

The building has a two-story section and a one-story section, the latter of which housed the Tupelo Honey Cafe before the restaurant closed this place in 2018. The one-story portion was not part of the deal.

The Johnson City Convention and Visitors Bureau is a tourism development agency that controls a significant portion of hotel tax revenue generated in Johnson City.

Brenda Whitson, executive director of the office, said in May that the organization’s new location is at a hub in the city center, providing easy access to Interstate 26 as well as multiple business and leisure opportunities. .

Growth on Walnut Street

As Johnson City prepared to launch its $ 30 million West Walnut Street redesign, several new businesses have opened or changed hands this year along the corridor.

In March, Tennessee Hills Distillery announced a multi-million dollar expansion on West Walnut Street. The company purchased the assets of JRH Brewing and opened a second location at 458 W. Walnut St., where it produces beer and spirits. Its original location in Jonesborough remains open.

The owners also plan to transform the Preston Woodworking property at 620 W. Walnut St. into a production facility that will also include a museum and restaurant.

Sisters-in-law Katelyn and Lauren Jones, meanwhile, opened Crumb Bakeshop at 500 W. Walnut St. in May. Located at the Model Mill on the corner of Sevier and West Walnut streets, the bakery sells Jewish-inspired recipes, drawing inspiration from meals Katelyn’s grandmother made and the delicatessens and bakeries she visited with her. brother Josh.

Along with a plethora of other options, the bakery makes bear claws, rugelach, danishes, rye brownies, ricotta coffee cake, and babka and challah breads.

Will and Stacy Martin, owners of Peggy Ann Bakery, purchased the Italian Pizza Pub at 807 W. Walnut St. in mid-June from Burt Kordamiri, who opened the business in the 1980s.

The Martins plan to keep the same recipes from the Italian Pizza Pub and revive the concert hall at the back of the restaurant.

“We want this to be your neighborhood bar,” Martin said in July. “We’re not going to have these big, fancy promotions. We’re not going to have those $ 20 meals. It’s going to be a $ 2 slice of pizza and a $ 2-3 beer and really a great family atmosphere.

Innovation park

In May, Johnson City hired an engineering consultant to help develop a master plan for its part of Innovation Park, a 60-acre stretch of West Market Street that includes two 30-acre plots owned by the city and the East Tennessee State University.

Ownership in the town is vacant, but officials hope eventually to see development on the land.

Preliminary plans showed six buildings, each with ground floors of at least 20,000 square feet. These could be divided into smaller structures.


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