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Mize to consolidate to Gray

Nathan Baker • Jan 7, 2014 at 11:55 AM

A 60-year-old Johnson City business will close its doors to make way for a multi-family apartment complex expected to build later this year.

In a statement emailed Monday on behalf of the Mize family, Helen Wagner, president of Mize Farm & Garden Supply Inc., announced the Johnson City retail store would soon be consolidated into the location in Gray.

The move was expected after Evolve Development LLC, the potential builder of a 216-unit housing development, submitted plans to the city in December to build on a 6-acre tract of land comprised of the Mize property and the neighboring former Model Mill site between State of Franklin Road and West Walnut Street.

At that time, Mize stayed quiet about the potential for a sale, but the two properties have long been paired together for marketing purposes.

The agriculture supply store has been at the corner of State of Franklin and West Watauga Avenue since 1952, when it was a Security Feed and Seed store, owned by a company headquartered in Knoxville.Glenn Mize, who at that time was the Johnson City store’s manager, bought the location shortly before ConAgra Inc. purchased Security Feed and Seed in 1974.

At that time, Mize also partnered with Paul Lee and Don Miller to buy the Bristol Security Feed store, renamed Lee Farm & Garden Supply, but sold his interest in that store before his death in 1984.After his death, his daughter, Helen Mize Wagner, assumed control of the business with the help of sales manager Ken Lowe.

The two have seen the business through an expansion to the 251 Old Gray Station Road site and have added to the products carried.

If Evolve’s request for a zoning change and variance is approved at the Jan. 14 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, the full City Commission will consider the proposal in February and could give final consent in March.

Johnson City Chamber of Commerce Director Gary Mabrey, who has been working closely with the company to facilitate the deal, said the company will move forward with property acquisition after those hurdles are cleared.

The Chamber and its foundation has been marketing the defunct mill site since its purchase in 2008, after purchasing the property for $400,000, but have yet to close the deal.

Mabrey has said the proposal by Evolve is the closest the Chamber has been to unloading the land since its purchase.If the sale is finalized, both the Mize building and the industrial site will be razed, and five four-story buildings and a 400-space parking lot will be rebuilt in their place.

The stretch of State of Franklin Road between East Tennessee State University and downtown Johnson City is fast becoming a residential corridor.

The new complex would join the University Edge student community, near ETSU’s Thomas Stadium; Monarch 815, a luxury student housing development planned for the site of the now demolished Mullican Flooring manufacturing facility; and already-built apartments adjacent to the Millennium Centre.

The Franklin, a 96-unit building near the intersection of State of Franklin and University Parkway, was recently approved for construction by the City Commission.

While most of those complexes are student housing, Mabrey has stressed Evolve’s emphasis on building family-oriented apartments.

A full-size beach volleyball court on Evolve’s original plans is now designated as a children’s playground and the apartment mix consists of one, two and three-bedroom units.

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