By LISA WHALEY
Jonesborough’s old post office building may be getting a new lease on life, literally.
The building, located at 111 W. Main St. and purchased by Jonesborough mayor and developer Kelly Wolfe, is currently undergoing renovation and should reopen by early 2018 as apartment lofts and a new downtown restaurant.
“We purchased the building late last year,” Wolfe said. “And we’ve been taking our time contemplating the best possible use for it, both in terms of a return on the investment and what’s best needed for the town.”
Wolfe secured the 8,000-square-foot building, erected in 1959, for $350,000, recognizing, he said, that the venture would require sizable work to reach the potential he imagined.
“When you take on a project like this, there are all kinds of complicating factors that really make it tough to make it as profitable versus a new construction,” Wolfe admitted. “Anybody who approaches these old buildings downtown to make them sustainable has to give a whole lot of thought to make it successful.”
Still, Jonesborough’s growing downtown, with new streetscapes, greenspaces and the proposed Jackson Theatre project, made his decisions a little easier to make.
First are the downtown apartment lofts.
Plans for the building’s second floor include two two-bedroom apartments and two one-bedroom apartments. Views from the front will be the historic Chester Inn and the International Storytelling Center. The back, with balcony, will look out over Little Limestone Creek.
“Folks look at living in downtown Jonesborough as not quite living in an urban environment, but it’s urban enough to invite a younger crowd and those who like the idea of walking a couple of blocks for a cup of coffee,” Wolfe said.
Rates to lease one of these new loft apartments are tentatively set at the $600 to $650 for the one-bedroom units up to $1,500 for the largest two-bedroom unit.
Wolfe also stressed that materials have been chosen to ensure better soundproofing capabilities for floors and walls in the loft apartments.
The second part of the project will be the main floor restaurant, which will feature outdoor seating at the back, a bar and a main dining area that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“We’ve talked with a couple of different prospective tenants about their interest in opening a much needed restaurant downtown,” Wolfe said. “And I think we’ve settled on working with one individual in particular.
“He is one of the most successful food truck operators in the entire region really anxious to come to Jonesbough and set up a home base”
Though negotiations are ongoing, “We couldn’t be more excited.”