W. Market St. business owner worried about ongoing construction’s impact

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Construction work in Downtown Johnson City has a small business nervous for the future.

At a time when Johnson City is trying to boost downtown business, Overmountain Outdoors, which is in a flood prone area, has concerns about paying the bills.

Just a few years ago Johnson City saw heavy flooding sweep the streets of downtown. Today the city is working on a months long project to help alleviate the flood prone areas.

Owner, Matt Whitson hears digging and shoveling outside his door nearly everyday, sounds he never expected to hear.

“It’s really effected our business, it’s been a tough thing, a tough time since it started in August,” Whitson said.

Whitson said its made it difficult for potential customers to access their storefront by car and even by foot and sales have dropped 20-35%.

“We do wish that we had a little more notice that this project was going to be dropped right on us,” Whitson said.

They were told almost two weeks in advance. Commissioners come by every so often to check in with Whitson and the city added signed to help people get around but Whitson said it’s not enough.

“Our biggest question is, why did the project have to happen now?” Co-owner, Jeanine Vaszari said.

construction-2There’s never a good time for construction but the holidays are on their way.

“Any other time, we could have worked with that but so much of our sales comes from this time of year,” Vaszari said.

City Manager, Pete Peterson told us he understands their concern but the project is crucial.

“We know for a fact that that store will continue to flood and that block will continue to flood and the work that we’re doing will alleviate that problem,” Peterson said.

Vaszari is nervous for the future of her business.

“We might not make it and that’s just how it is,” Vaszari said.

Peterson is confident the project will pay off.

“In the long run that block at West Market Street will be a much more vibrant, productive block,” Peterson said.

Peterson said they plan to meet with Overmountain Outdoors next week to discuss ideas to help them continue to be successful. They hope to have this section of the project complete in the next few weeks.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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