More Activity in Downtown Jefferson City
By: Steve Marion – Staff Writer / THE STANDARD BANNER
Updated: January 26, 2017
As a new festival park nears completion, more plans are underway for redevelopment in downtown Jefferson City.
On Monday afternoon, Knoxville developer Jerry Brewer received permission from historic zoning commissioners to pry plywood and other materials off the fronts of three buildings in order to begin engineering assessments expected to lead to a plan for apartment, retail/restaurant, and events space. A woodworker has purchased another old building for his business, and two other buildings are back in use for the first time in years.
“We are planning a celebration in the spring to dedicate the new park,” said Kay O’Brien of the Mossy Creek Foundation. “Much of the construction is complete, but we’re waiting on better weather to install the plaza bricks, grass sod, and other items.”
Jefferson City Council donated $150,000, while citizen and business donations have crossed the $123,000 mark, not including in-kind work.
The Foundation is hosting a workshop February 11 at downtown restaurant The Creek Cafe dedicated to entrepreneurship techniques for the historic area. More information will be available soon, said Historic Zoning Commission Chairman John Zirkle at Monday’s meeting.
“Our contractor, Total Property Management, and project manager John Ballinger have gone above and beyond on the park,” said O’Brien. “They have saved us a bunch of money and even made their own donations to the project. We really appreciate their efforts.”
Woodworker Mike Dockery has purchased the old dance studio from previous owner Nancy Tullock and is already installing his equipment and planning a display studio. Modern Woodmen of America insurance/investments representative Richard Hall has opened his new office downtown. He is planning a downtown movie series this summer, and chipped in a matching grant on the park. A Total Property Management employee bought another downtown building and is renovating the upstairs for apartments. The downstairs is already office space.
Brewer’s firm Translucent Design is planning the biggest downtown project for structures on each corner of Main Street.
Translucent’s design would take the two corner buildings (including the old three-story Parks Belk Building), as well as a former dress shop and an old theater that currently has no roof, and renovate them in keeping with the historic look of the old downtown. Ten to 12 apartment units would be installed on the second floor of the east corner building, where the first floor would include space for a restaurant, retail stores or offices, and a venue rental space being developed in conjunction with Carson-Newman University. The building will have a brick facade with rows of large windows. An empty slot just west the old theater would become an open-air courtyard for the restaurant with lighting, seating, and trees. A parking lot to serve the development would be installed behind the buildings along Tallent Street.
Brewer has owned property in the old downtown for about 15 years and used it mainly for storage while completing construction contracts with C-N. The Commission’s action on Monday gives him permission to get started by removing plywood and cleaning out the interior of the buildings in order to obtain a structure assessment.
“We’re going to work our hardest to bring the buildings back like they were,” he told the group.
Zirkle said the Commission is expecting drawings and an application for a certificate of appropriateness from Brewer as early as next month. The next meeting is February 27.