Summers Taylor, Inc. continues renovation efforts on Model Mill

Zach Vance • Feb 5, 2017 at 12:01 AM

It’s been just over a month since Summers-Taylor Inc. closed on the former Model Mill, a piece of property city officials believe will become the cornerstone of a rejuvenated West Walnut Street district.

But Grant Summers, president of Summers-Taylor, hasn’t wasted time getting to work on the future site of his construction company’s headquarters.

In the past week or longer, the site has been visibly active with workers and heavy equipment tidying up the facility. A large crane on site has assisted rooftop workers by floating a miniature dumpster they can throw debris into.

“The initial work that we’re doing is really trying to get trash, debris (and) a lot of the leftover machinery out of there,” Summers said. “There was a ton of conduits, sprinkler pipes and duct work, so we’ve been working to remove it. ... You can’t imagine how much machinery and pipe was in there.”

Summers said the City’s Planning Division has been a helpful ally during the initial stage of the project.

“The Planning Department has been very good and worked with us. We’ve got a sequence of approval for things, but they’re keeping us in line and keeping us legal, but then allowing us to work through the fire demo,” Summers added.

While the building will take a few more months to empty, work will soon begin on mending a section of the building’s roof, which was damaged in a September fire.

Summers said the majority of the fire damage occurred on the second and third floors.

“We’re just trying to get all that stuff off so we can start putting the roof structure back so the building will finally be dried in. It’s just been getting rained on that section right now” he said.

“We’ve also been doing some environmental remediation, we’ve had some licensed contractors in there kind of removing stuff, too, so that’s all done and testing’s done. It’s just step-by-step getting stuff out that we need to.”

Despite abnormally warm temperatures, Summers said January’s rainy weather has been more of a hinderance with the leaky roof.

“This time of year, the sad part is if it’s warm, it is probably rainy. I wouldn’t say that the weather has done us any favors,” Summers said.

“Cold and dry would have been better, but it is what it is. There are a lot of holes in the roof, both in the burnt section and in other sections. Before we’re able to get it fully dried in, it’s just going to keep getting rained on. We’re just in a race against that.”

Summers said he hopes to begin installing new roof trusses in the next two weeks, and then move on to the building’s exterior walls.

“The paint removal will kind of be the next step. We’re rolling through different options with different contractors and different methods whether it’s blasting or chemical removal,” he said.

R&G Ventures, an incorporation of Summers-Taylor owners Rab Summers and Grant Summers, officially closed on the Model Mill in December for $570,000, purchasing the property from the Johnson City-Jonesborough-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

Summers said he isn’t sure how much the property will cost to repair, but the Washington County Commission approved a $1.2 million tax increment financing incentive in November.

Although one-third of the property will become Summers-Taylor’s headquarters, approximately 40,000 to 50,000 square feet of the property, including two outparcel buildings, is expected to be leased as office, restaurant or retail space.

In September, a sudden fire engulfed a section of the building’s second story, but firefighters were able to save the building from complete abolishment. Once he analyzed the damage, Summers agreed to continue through with the purchase once insurance payments were settled.

Summers hopes to have the building completely remodeled by the end of 2018.

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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