JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Monday marked the beginning of another construction project in downtown Johnson City.
Since last fall there have been more than five major construction projects that have taken place in downtown Johnson City, and the work isn't finished yet.
Melvin Browles has been the owner of Mel's Stamps and Coins in downtown Johnson City for the past 40 years. "It was the old Johnson City when I started here. You had Kings and [J.C.] Penney and all of the those good stores here," said Browles.
He tells News 5 he's watched downtown change right before his eyes from his business in on Buffalo Street.
But over the past year, selling old coins hasn't made him much money. "Right now the roads have been blocked a lot. My customers are usually older and they drive around, and if they can't find a place easy they just go on. They have gotten out of the habit of coming," said Browles.
As part of the city's downtown revitalization, the area has undergone a number of renovations, including infrastructure and 'street-scaping'. The next step involves workers putting a special coating called Flowcrete on the crosswalks.
The crosswalk construction is taking place at the intersection of East Main Street from Commerce Street to South Roan Street, and on Buffalo Street from Tipton Street to East Market Street.
All of this is happening as a block of South Roan is under construction, giving downtown customers and commuters a headache.
The Washington County Economic Development Council's Shannon Castillo tells News 5 they are working hard to keep everyone informed and engaged. "We have visited every single business in downtown constantly to let them know about road closures. I send out an email called 'The Comment' every other week letting them know what is going on, what road closures they can expect," said Castillo.
Browles tells News 5 he's spending more on advertising because he's lost half of his business, but he is optimistic that they will return in even higher numbers once the construction is complete. "Hopefully before Christmas people will find their way back. In the long-run it will be a good for downtown," he said.
Next Monday construction will begin on East Market from South Roan to Commerce Street, and on Buffalo from South Roan to East Main.
If all goes as planned, this phase of the construction will be complete by December 1, before underground improvements begin on at the intersection of Water Street and Roan Street.
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