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Old mill property has more potential than current plan

RETHA C. BUCHANAN • Feb 28, 2014 at 9:05 AM

I have followed the fate of the old General Mills property since it was sold to Mennel Milling Co. several years ago. Mennel bought it simply to keep it away from any other milling companies that might start it back up and give them unwanted competition in the flour business on the East Coast. Once Mennel dismantled it, our Chamber of Commerce bought it thinking it could relocate there and sell off the remaining property for a profit. That has proven to be difficult, and now the Chamber has a buyer and is eager to deal. I’m afraid greed and impatience are the greatest influences involved in this potential transaction. I admit I agree with Tom McKee, the potential buyer’s attorney, that the mill property is a “white elephant.” The property has been idle for years, and the recent owners did little to maintain or secure the property. With the opening of the Tweetsie Trail and Tupelo Honey in the next year, however, I think interest in that property will increase tremendously.Evolve Development, the potential buyer, initially proposed high-end apartments for the site, but that proposal has devolved into a “rent-by-the-room” complex geared more toward students. I don’t know the numbers concerning student housing surpluses or shortages, but it seems to me we should have a surplus judging from the complexes popping up near campus and new residence halls on campus. I do know shiny new apartment buildings quickly become dilapidated without continued investment and upkeep. I hope someone has checked up on Evolve Development’s track record as far as property maintenance 10 years down the road.I think this property has greater potential. I hope our city commissioners will use foresight and patience for the third reading of this rezoning issue.BRAD JOHNSONJohnson CityHonest studentThe front page of the Press on Feb. 15 featured an amazing story of a lost engagement ring (valued at between $20,000 and $45,000 by a local jeweler) that was found and returned to the owner. I was amazed by the honesty of the college student who found the ring, Aaron Bookout, who made the decision to return the ring to the owner. What a wonderful Valentine’s gift for her. We hear and read so many negative things, but this story proves that honesty does prevail. My compliments to Aaron.What a friend. What honesty.RETHA C. BUCHANANJonesborough

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