Model Mills variance delayed to January

Nathan Baker • Nov 20, 2013 at 9:21 PM

A variance request for a century-old mill property in Johnson City will be delayed until the new year to give the potential developer more time to make changes to the drawn plans for an envisioned apartment complex.

Johnson City Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Mabrey said Wednesday that Evolve Development LLC, asked to put off a scheduled Dec. 10 variance hearing before the city Board of Zoning Appeals until Jan. 14 to allow the company to finalize a draft of the site plan for a multi-building residential complex where the former Model Mill now stands.

The zoning variance hearing was originally set for November, but Mabrey said last week that the hearing was rescheduled to December to allow Evolve to expand its plans to include the neighboring Mize Farm & Garden Supply, which is being offered as a package with the Model Mill acreage.

The developer originally intended to raze the Walnut Street factory and its six imposing, white silos and build four 40-unit apartment buildings, and an accompanying clubhouse, pool and a 280-space parking lot on the property.

With the Mize land is included in the sale, Evolve intends to add a fifth apartment building, proposing 200 total units on the block between State of Franklin Road and Walnut Street.

The properties’ existing B-2 zoning allows residential units, but not on the first floor of a building. The requested variance would allow the company to build and operate residential housing on the ground floor of any development.

Since the builder’s plans were filed in the Johnson City planning office, Mabrey an Evolve representative have met with nearby residents twice to address questions about traffic and the intended tenants of the apartments.

Although questions remain, Mabrey said he hopes they will be answered when the final draft of the site plan is submitted.

The Chamber Foundation purchased the flour mill five years ago with hopes of rehabilitating the industrial building and relocating the Chamber’s headquarters to it. If Evolve carries out its plan, Mabrey said the Chamber would look elsewhere for a base.

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