Residents will be able to offer input this week on a rezoning that would allow the construction of a 288-unit apartment complex in north Johnson City.

Johnson City commissioners will consider on second reading Thursday whether to rezone an 18-acre parcel at 1072 W. Oakland Ave. from B-4 (planned arterial business) to R-5 (high-density residential). They will also hold a public hearing on the proposal.

The meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the commission chambers at City Hall, 601 E. Main St. If approved, the rezoning would move to third and final reading.

The complex could charge rates ranging from $1,000 to $1,600 and would consist of 12 three-story buildings containing one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. There will be two access points to the complex: One at West Oakland Avenue and the other on Chase Drive.

The project’s developer, TDK Construction Company, built an adjacent apartment complex several years ago called the Reserve, at 1084 W. Oakland Ave.

Marcy Walker, an attorney representing the developer and the property owners, said TDK Construction Company still owns the Reserve and will buy the land at 1072 W. Oakland Ave. from the existing owners if the parcel is rezoned.

She expects the new apartment complex will charge similar rates as the Reserve.

Housing near Langston

Commissioners will also consider on final reading a proposal to convey property at 221 E. Myrtle Ave. to Appalachia Service Project, a local housing agency that plans to build a single-family home on the land. The city bought the property in 2020 as a result of a codes enforcement case.

Two other homebuilding agencies, Holston Habitat for Humanity and Eastern Eight CDC, have plans to build homes on adjoining privately owned lots at 219 and 217 E. Myrtle Ave.

This is the latest step in a larger effort by the city to invest in the Langston neighborhood.

In late 2019, the city opened a new multicultural facility called the Langston Centre at the former site of the old Langston High School, a facility that served Black students in Johnson City from 1893 until court-ordered integration in 1965. The city’s public works department has also recently refurbished roads in the neighborhood.

The city hopes this will serve as a similar model for building affordable housing in other parts of the city. In the future, however, the First Tennessee Development District would act as a land bank.

Other business

• Staff will propose converting four tennis courts at the Memorial Park Community Center into a pickleball complex consisting of 12 courts. Commissioners will consider Thursday whether to issue a request for proposals for that project.

• Commissioners will review a proposal to deploy smart pole technology in downtown parks using a $335,000 grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

This will include adding speakers, dimmable lighting, pedestrian counters, a weather station and an early warning flood detection system at Founders Park. The playground at King Commons Park will also get speakers. No city funds will be involved in the project.

Public Works Director Phil Pindzola said the proposal involves installing eight new poles.

There will also be options in the future if the city wants to expand the system, which Pindzola said could involve deploying cameras downtown or putting in parking counters. Currently, there isn’t enough money available to accommodate those additions.

Installing cameras downtown, however, is a high priority for the city, Pindzola said.

• Commission will consider on final reading an ordinance that prohibits property owners from canceling, resetting or tampering with a fire alarm control panel before emergency services arrives for an investigation.

Violations could result result in a $50 fine, but fire department personnel would have the discretion to determine whether to cite property owners, which would act as a last resort.

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David Floyd covers Johnson City government, Johnson City schools and Ballad Health for the Johnson City Press. He grew up in East Tennessee and graduated from ETSU, where he was the executive editor of the school paper.

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