Johnson City leaders hoping new ETSU Fine Arts Center brings big shows and more people to community

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – For the time being, the new ETSU Fine Arts Center is still a drawing. At the end of the week, it will start to take shape next to the Millennium Centre on state of Franklin Road.

“Its been something the region has been dreaming about for years,” Chief of ETSU External Operations Jeremy Ross said.

Ross calls the new facility a win win win. One for students, the university, and the city of Johnson City which put up $8 million for the project.

“There expectations as well as ours is that we will be able to draw more national talent to the area because we move from a 600 seat venue to a 1200 seat in the main auditorium,” Ross said.

The multi-phase project is just in the begining stages. Fencing has been placed around the property where the Fine Arts Center will be built.

“As we are trying to attract the people that we want to attract to our city, there are certain amenities that they expect and that they want,” David Tomita said.

Johnson City Mayor David Tomita says the more ETSU grows, so does the surrouding community.

Tomita said for the most part, city commissioners had no problem agreeing to put up the money that would ensure the fine arts center could fit more people. This would ultimatly give way to bringing big name venues to the area and pump money back into the local economy.

According to Johnson City’s Assistant City Manager, the city borrowed the money last year. That money was then budgeted for the ETSU Fine Arts Center project

It is expected to be paid back with additional revenue from the 2 percent increase in the hotel-motel tax approved by the Johnson City commission and state legislature in fiscal year 2016.

“The nice part is the majority of that tax will be paid by those who visit our town rather than those who live here and that was the intent of using the hotel-motel tax for that purpose,” Tomita said.

Giving ETSU students and people in the community a facility they both can benefit from. A ground breaking ceremony for the new fine arts center is expected to happen Friday.  The center is expected to open in Fall of 2019.


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