Revitalization underway in downtown Kingsport

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – If you haven’t ventured through downtown Kingsport in recent years, it may look a little different than the downtown you remember.

While there are restaurants and boutiques, a lot of new shops are now mingled in with some of the older staples.

One local business owner said growth and expansion in the downtown area has been nothing but positive for the area.

Wallace News Stand has been serving popcorn to the people of downtown Kingsport since the 1930s and it’s a place owner Thom Throp remembers visiting as a boy, housed in a then thriving downtown.

“My graduating year from high school here at Dobyns-Bennett, we graduated and a month or so later …downtown was somewhat of a ghost town,” Throp said.

He said now he’s reminded of the old days and said recent years of development have once again made it an attractive destination.

“If someone comes down to get their hair done, they’ve got a place to eat, got a bakery, got a place they can come get popcorn from me (from a) popper that has been here since 1938,” Throp said. “They can pick up the newspaper, magazine, buy antiques. There’s just a plethora of stuff now going on that allows for people of all ages to come to downtown Kingsport and find something to do.”

Throp said John Vachon and his wife, Angela, play a big role in being able to do so due to the pair owning and renovating several of the buildings downtown.

“These old buildings have such great character, so we just try to unveil that character and enhance it,” Vachon said.

In doing so, Vachon said it has had a phenomenal economic impact on the area.

“You’ve got a lot of other people that are seeing it, that are coming in and wanting to be part of it,” Vachon said. “And they’re excited about it. The city is very excited about it.”

Kingsport City Manager Jeff Fleming said Wednesday the city is proud to help support this revitalization effort and do so by providing grants to things like façade and redevelopment.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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