JOHNSON CITY, Tennessee (WJHL) – Back in April, Tennessee lawmakers allocated $ 4 million to revitalize historic buildings across the state.

The money comes in the form of a grant that finances 30% of the renovation costs up to $ 300,000.

“The historic redevelopment grant depends on the investments you make and the cost of construction,” said Dianna Cantler, interim director of the Johnson City Development Authority. “That year, Governor Lee decided to give a historic revitalization grant instead of a tax credit. It was a $ 5 million pilot allocation in his budget. “


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Deer Trail 4, LLC., A Johnson City development company, is one of 26 to receive the scholarship.

“We actually applied for four different properties and only one got the grant, so we have several other options that will hopefully provide even more money,” said Cantler. “It’s probably one of the greatest elements of the historical revival Johnson City has seen in decades.”

Deer Trail 4 is owned by Joyce Smith and her family. They spent almost a year buying the former FW Woolworth building.

“It was built in 1907 and has a historical certificate,” said Smith. “It was Pedigro’s, which was originally a dry goods store. We think that was the first use. Then at some point it became a Woolworth, so it has a lot of history and charm. “


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They received $ 270,000 in the grant and hope to renovate the building for mixed-use businesses.

“The facade, significant damage was done when it was covered. So this fellowship is really going to allow us not to compromise and really bring it back to its original life, ”said Smith. “We reckon the facade will likely cost around $ 800-900,000 to recreate the original, but we’re not sure what it will cost about the building itself.”

The Smiths currently reside in New Mexico and have corporate apartments there and in Atlanta. You have family in the Tri-Cities and are planning to move. The family also owns the building adjacent to the Woolworth Building, which houses Johnson City Brewing and several other businesses.


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“I’d really like to bring something that brings pedestrian traffic here, to bring that energy back and bring more customers to the companies that are already here,” said Smith.

She’s not sure how long the renovations will take, but she’s hoping to recruit companies to use the upper section for offices and restaurants or retail for the lower section.

“We have seven offices. We plan to keep offices of any size they want so they can be ‘custom built’, ”said Smith. “We are so excited that we received it so that we can do what we want with the building and keep it as a historic landmark.”

This story – in the hope that through the scholarship with his Guidelines to maintain historical integrity.


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“Not only does it encourage property owners to invest in their property, but it also encourages getting it right. So that the investment you make lasts for decades, ”says Cantler. “You might give people money, but it will cost them a little more to do the project because they have to follow a certain standard. Instead of just walking in and saying ‘we’re just going to put wood siding in here’ they have to find a carpenter who can match what is already there or if there are pictures they need to match what the building looked like at a given time. “

The grants also encourage investors to renovate the buildings at the front end.

“Instead of sitting on a building and waiting for something to happen, she’s actually driving it forward. It gives them the incentive to find the money instead of leaving it empty, ”said Cantler. “When you have a lot in the middle of a block that is so desolate and boarded up with no activity going on, it’s very disheartening for the people who have already invested in their lot. It is also more difficult for us to recruit new companies. “

In addition to creating jobs and new business in this area, there is hope that other locations on Main Street will follow suit.

“Often times we can do a project on one block and then the rest of the buildings may make further facade improvements based on the investments made,” said Cantler. “When we have all these buildings that are being restored, everyone wants to be in them. We can bring in new companies. “

Also in the area, LMD Technologies received $ 60,000 in Greeneville for the refurbishment of a building on Depot Street.

Awards were given according to the first-come-first-served principle. Part of the funds was reserved for level 3 and 4 projects in rural communities until December 31, 2021. Johnson City is a tier 2 community.