Potential Model Mills developer requests zoning variance

Nathan Baker • Oct 29, 2013 at 7:24 AM

The Johnson City Chamber of Commerce revealed more about the plans of the potential developer for the Model Mills Walnut Street property Monday, as the unnamed businessman asks the city for a zoning variance.

Chamber Director Gary Mabrey said signs will go up today at the site of the century-old flour mill noting a request for a zoning variance by the developer, who Mabrey said is seriously considering purchasing the property from the Chamber.

"[The developer] is exploring options for the property, and is requesting a variance that would allow him to have all residential space on the first floor," Mabrey said. "Everything right now is very preliminary. We're not anywhere near closing on the property, but we're trying to keep the conversation going."

The current property at 500 W. Walnut St., which has become an eyesore and a target for vandals over the years, is currently zoned B-2 by the city, defined as Central Business District.

The intention of the B-2 zoning designation is to "promote a compact urban core with a mixture of commercial, office, institutional, and residential uses which facilitate pedestrian accessibility," according to city codes.

Earlier this month, Mabrey fiercely protected the identity of the potential developer, but said he has managed projects in locations across the southern United States.

If the current developer does purchase the property, Mabrey said the current industrial building and the six white silos on the site could be torn down.

The Chamber Foundation purchased the mill building five years ago in hopes of selling it to a potential developer, but, although Mabrey said it garnered interest and a handful of offers, no sale has gone through.

Mabrey said the developer has already submitted a request for a variance with the city planning office, and should be at an upcoming meeting to present his plans for the property.

Related Story: Chamber leader says sale closer on Model Mills property

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