Summers-Taylor, Inc. seals deal on Model Mill property

Zach Vance • Dec 15, 2016 at 11:14 PM

An Elizabethton-based construction contractor has finalized its purchase of the former Model Mill property.

R&G Ventures, an incorporation of Summers-Taylor owners Rab and Grant Summers, officially closed on the property around 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

Grant Summers said plans are to transform about a third of the property into the construction company’s headquarters.

Depending on how the building is restored and rebuilt, the remainder of the 40,000- to 50,000-square-foot property will be leased as office and retail space.

“The tall four-story section is where most of the other space, space we’re not occupying, will be. So that’s roughly 25,000 to 35,000 (square feet) of extra space to rent out,” Summers said.

“We’re very excited. We’re happy to finally have the process moving forward knowing we have control of the building and start clean-up and start remediation.”

Two outparcel buildings on the property will likely be converted and leased out to either a restaurant or retail establishment.

“We’d love to have a little coffee shop, a little cafe or something (there). Maybe a mixed-use development to where people working there can also eat,” Summers said.

Originally built in 1909 by George L. Carter, the new owners are steadfast in keeping the property’s signature concrete silos; but Summers said he is still brainstorming about what to make of them.

“The silos, I think, are an iconic part of the visual of the Mill. That’s part of the working of the old Mill so we don’t want to tear them down. We’re gonna, at the very least, clean them up and repaint them,” Summers said.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we can find a use ... cut into them and use the existing structure as a frame to put some things in.”

Around the country, silos have been redeveloped into student housing complexes, hotel rooms and shopping centers, he added.

On Sept. 25, a fire on the Model Mill’s third floor burned into the building’s second story and caused “significant water damage” from firefighters’ attempts to extinguish the fire.

Now that his company owns the property, Summers said the cleanup process will begin in “the coming days.”

“We’ll just initially start to get in and clean up stuff. The demo contractor will also get in there and start cleaning up the burnt section,” Summers said.

The total cost of the project is still unknown, Summers said, until the preliminary cleanup and evaluation is completed. Existing equipment and plenty of wiring still has to be removed.

“That will take a while to get out so all that will be done over this winter and hopefully start true construction by next spring,” he said.

The sale marked the first time the West Walnut property had changed owners in eight years.

The previous owner, the Johnson City-Jonesborough-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, voted in July to accept a $570,000 offer from the construction company, but the abrupt September fire put the transition on hold until insurance payments were settled.

In late November, the Washington County Commission approved a $1.2 million tax increment financing incentive — or TIF — plan that will assist in redeveloping the property. 

Optimistically, Summers said he expects the transformation to be completed near the end of 2018.

“We’ve been really appreciative of the support the public has shown. The Tree Streets folks have shown great support in thanking us. ... We’re hoping we’ll be very good neighbors to everybody,” Summers said.

Email Zach Vance at [email protected] Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP.

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