Letters: Should Johnson City make a retail and tourism district?

Johnson City Press • Jan 5, 2020 at 6:00 AM

With our latest Question of the Week, we asked readers for their thoughts on the proposed retail and tourism district in Boones Creek. Here are some of the responses we received.

Continue the growth

It is a great opportunity for a needed major development. The state is on board.

The project will be very profitable to all of Johnson City, including downtown, as the growth will impact every part of the city. The fear that it will cannibalize downtown is unfounded. Look at Bristol’s downtown thriving partly because of the success of The Pinnacle.

Johnson City for years has been the growth engine of the Tri-Cities. We should shoulder our responsibility and remain the leader and crank the engine of growth again.


Downtown is booming

In his Dec. 29 letter, Penman Gilliam suggests that rather than building another shopping center in the region, we rebuild downtown Johnson City. I do not disagree, but I question the veracity of Penman’s opinion of downtown.

I ponder if Penman has visited downtown JC recently. If he hasn’t then he doesn’t know what he speaks of. If he has, then might I suggest, he’s simply oblivious.

I moved here in 2011. Downtown was basically bare. Since I arrived eight years ago, all of the following have opened in or near downtown: Atlantic Ale House, Dos Gato, Johnson City Brewing Company, Southern Craft BBQ, Wild Wing Cafe, Go Burrito!, Barley Waters, White Duck Taco, Yee-Haw, Timber!, JRH, the new Cootie Brown’s, Mama DeLuca’s, Alumni Hall, and First Watch. This list doesn’t include the spectacular work on Founders and King Commons Parks.

Now if Penman is suggesting we put big box stores or a mall downtown, well, that’s simply not going to happen. It’s not what downtowns are for. We already have one dying mall in Johnson City. Why destroy a growing downtown full of independent stores and local restaurants with out-of-town cookie-cutter corporate trash?

Johnson City

Develop retail responsibly

The Boone's Creek project could do to the Johnson City Mall, just what the mall did to Downtown Johnson City 50 years ago — it could kill it!

It has taken 50 years for downtown to just begin to get back on its feet. This project could once again knock the wind out of downtown by building another entertainment and retail area that will siphon the tourists and local spending money away from our mall, our downtown and our Walnut Street.

Don't believe me? Look at what the Pinnacle did to the Bristol Mall. Downtown Bristol is still struggling today to fill in store fronts and bring in tourists.

The simple fact is the greater Johnson City area may not be able to support a Pinnacle-type retail area and the Johnson City Mall, and continue to surrender more money to online retail sales every year.

50 years ago when the city leaders approved the Mall at Johnson City, they didn't have the hindsight that we have today. We know we killed our downtown when we built the mall. I don't want Roan Street to be vacant wasteland of empty box stores because the new Boone's Creek project put them all out of business.

Let us learn from our past so that we are not doomed to make the same mistakes. We owe it to our town to better understand what this project is going to do to our existing businesses.

We need an economic impact study to answer before we approve another potential mistake that could take decades to recover from.

If you have an opinion on this project, please tell the city. Email or call our city commissioners.

Let's not make the same mistake twice.

Johnson City

Want to have your voice heard? Send a Letter to the Forum. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].

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