Task force works on guidelines to improve West Walnut Street corridor

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) —   A Johnson City task force hopes to reshape the appearance of an important area in downtown.

The task force is working on guidelines to improve the West Walnut Street corridor.

West Walnut Street has been regarded as an important part of the city—linking downtown to East Tennessee State University and the Med-Tech corridor. But while it is an important link, all agree it is in need of an update.

“Just a face lift,” said Johnson City Development Coordinator, Steven Nielson.  “Some nice awnings and some repainting could really add to this corridor.”

One focus Wednesday night was the problem with parking, which is a potential problem for investors.

“We have a number of them that want to redevelop, but haven’t been able to meet the parking requirements, so the buildings sit vacant,” said Nielson.

One idea was to charge business owners an in-lieu of parking fee.walnut2

“The concept is, you provide a surface lot and then you charge a fee,” said Nielson. “Whether you try to recoup the entire cost of the construction cost and the land, or you just acquire some of the fee.”

At the heart of the West Walnut corridor also stands a big unknown.

Last week, the owner of the abandoned General Mills building said talks with a local developer did not pan out, so the search is on for a buyer who will transform the site.

Until that’s determined this task force will continue the work of making decisions, where decisions can be made.

Once the guidelines are finalized, the task force will schedule a public hearing. The group will meet again June 1st at 5 p.m., at the Johnson City Public Library.

The guidelines will still have to be approved by the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission and the City commission.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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