For many of us who lived in the dark times, it’s an amazing thing to see how far Johnson City’s downtown has come. Growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s, Johnson City, like most cities, had let the majority of the downtown core get rather seedy and neglected.
At that time, most places were building the latest and greatest in all-in-one, indoor shopping experiences, The Mall! Johnson City was no different. This new destination was pulling in a lot of what made downtown so unique and special. At one time, the downtown area was home to 4 movie theaters, the Majestic, the Liberty, the Sevier, and the Tennessee. Now, all of those are gone. Most downtowns are revitalizing their old theaters, and using them to bring a more upscale and artsy nightlife to their citizens. Unfortunately for Johnson City, that is not an option. There is no way to tap into those former homes of stage and screen.
In the renaissance of today’s downtown, Johnson City is tying in multiple things to keep people coming down and enjoying what is available in the city’s heart. The Tweetsie Trail, which goes from Johnson City’s downtown all the way through to Elizabethton’s, allows users to be active in a very creative use of an old railway bed. The new mountain bike trail that is being developed at Tannery Knob should also bring in biking enthusiasts from all over the region. One of the pieces that make the Tannery Knob trail distinct from other trials is the close proximity to downtown Johnson City. This will allow riders to feel removed enough from an urban environment while riding, but in fact be only minutes away from all the amenities that a downtown has to offer.
While Hands On Regional Museum is moving out of their downtown home and into space in the Gray Fossil Site building in Gray, Tennessee, the soon-to-be-open space allows for opportunity. The building is prime real estate on Main Street, and the City of Johnson City is purchasing the property to try to bring in a new anchor into Downtown. With several new restaurants having already opened up over the past few months, it would seem that Johnson City’s downtown is poised for even more growth in the future, and that’s a good thing for all who live and work here.
The biggest aspect allowing for much of the growth in downtown is the City’s flood mitigation project that has been built out over many years and several phases. Founder’s Park is one of the benefits of this program, allowing for protection from flooding in downtown, while affording the citizens of Johnson City , a place to enjoy a fantastic and beautiful new park! New art is being switched out every few months, as well as new signage throughout the downtown core that will continue the progress in the historical heart of the city. Let’s hope for many more years of growth and revitalization.