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County wants JCDA to pay outright for Downtown Centre

With Northeast State Community College receiving state approval to create a teaching site at the Downtown Centre much sooner than expected, leaders of Washington County are now scrambling to expedite the sale of the facility to the Johnson City Development Authority.
“The Tennessee Board of Regents approved the Downtown Centre as a teaching site for Northeast State. That process usually takes about six weeks. In this case, it literally took only one (week),” Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge said. “We thought we had until the early part of May. Now, we’ve got to get in gear.”
Previous talks between the County and JCDA revolved around a sale price of $500,000 for the building, with the JCDA paying the full amount at a rate of $70,000 per year.
“What we are doing right now is looking at the opportunity to just sell the building outright to the JCDA,” Eldridge said. “We’re very, very preliminary in that.”
According to Eldridge, the JCDA would borrow money to pay for the building based on the organization’s incoming tax increment financing revenue.
Eldridge said a sale price had yet to be negotiated for the building.
“The next step between the county and the JCDA is to come to terms with the transfer of ownership of the Downtown Centre,” Eldridge said. “Certainly everyone sees the benefit of this. I think everybody’s goal, at the end of the day, is bringing Northeast State to Washington County.”
The county has been looking to offload the Downtown Centre since the opening of the George P. Jaynes Justice Center in late 2009 moved all courts out of the Johnson City facility and into Jonesborough.
Currently, Washington County’s clerk and trustee’s offices remain at the facility. However, county commissioners recently approved a lease agreement at a building in North Johnson City where the offices will move in the coming weeks.
Northeast State leaders have said they hope to be offering classes at the Downtown Centre location starting in January 2012.