Johnson City

Businesses, residents hope for more downtown development

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - If you'd like to do more shopping and eating in downtown Johnson City, you're not alone. News 5 found out that the city commission plans to make bringing more commerce to downtown a top priority in the coming months.

Eric Ruhm is the owner of Energy Fitness in downtown Johnson City; he hopes the spirit of change his clients experience at his gym will fill downtown. "Change creates change, we talk about that in fitness," said Ruhm. "I want the shops away from the Mall. Some of those mall shops have the opportunity to come down here, if we create the space for that. There are a lot buildings that need some work."

The city commission is renewing its vision to focus on downtown development. City manager Pete Peterson tells us over the past couple years the city has spent thousands of dollars on downtown road and sidewalk improvements; now, they want to bring in more businesses, which will bring in people. "[What we want] is when somebody says 'Johnson City', they envision an area that is clean, safe, well lit, attractive, there's a lot of activity, there's a lot of commerce," said Peterson.

Billy Jolley and his family moved downtown in the midst of the revitalization. "We'd just like to see downtown continue to have more people to live here. We've been here for a few years. We'd like to more places for people to live and to see every empty building filled with a great store, or music venues, or restaurants down here," said Jolley.

The city commission says they'd like to bring in a movie theatre, along with newer restaurants and boutiques.

City manager Pete Peterson tells us they will present their ideas to the city's staff. Through the staff's research, they'll know when and where to start new developments.

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