What to do with the old General Mills property along West Walnut Street in Johnson City? It continues to be on the minds of city leaders and residents.
The city currently owns the property and is looking to go forward with a proposal by a North Carolina development firm to construct an apartment complex on the site.
The Southside Nneighborhood Organization, however, is trying to stop that proposal..
Jodi Jones reads comments from a nearly 300-signature petition her Southside Neighborhood Organization circulated opposing the rezoning of the old General Mills property. "The proposed apartment complex is not only not needed, it will not enhance the link between ETSU and downtown at all," she read.
We found out rezoning would open the door for demolition of the old building to make way for a 216-unit apartment complex to be constructed by Evolve Development.
"Our big-picture concerns are really that this is a very large and unique piece of land that's really critically located," Jones explained. "We really want to see the development of that property be proceeded in a very thoughtful manner, what could be best there, what will be best for all of us."
Chamber of Commerce president Gary Mabrey tells us the proposal by Evolve Development is the best plan right now for the site.."It's an attractive piece of property because of its location. It's attractive because of the plans Evolve has for that parcel of property and what that development will mean in the present day, and in the future," he said.
Jones tells us when all is said and done, her group would like to see something done with the property that's more historical in nature. "We like the idea of being able to walk along there and have something that you can stop in and visit," she said.
For the Southside Neighborhood group, that idea may even include preservation of the mill building itself. "We've never avoided preservation, we just haven't had anybody come forward that could make it work for everyone," Mabrey said.
Evolve is set to make their variance request for rezoning at Tuesday night's board of zoning appeals meeting. Jones tells me her group will be there with petition in hand.
After Tuesday night's board of zoning appeals meeting, the full matter is expected to come up for third and final reading at Thursday night's Johnson City Commission meeting.