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Despite pandemic challenges, town continues to grow

By LISA WHALEY

Publisher

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Progress marches on, even during a pandemic.

Despite continuing challenges due to COVID-19, the Town of Jonesborough is currently facing a period of surprising growth, according to Town Administrator Glenn Rosenoff.

“People are still investing in Jonesborough,” he said. 

Rosenoff cites new and growing developments, expansion of current businesses and the expected addition of both Little Caesars and Cook Out to local dining options as signs that — for Jonesborough at least – things remain in good shape economically.

“During this unprecedented time with COVID-19 we’re still advancing our directives, we’re still advancing our construction,” he said. “It hasn’t slowed down.  

“I think it is a testimony to Jonesborough that people still believe there is a great investment as they choose to continue with their projects even during this time.”

Cook Out Restaurant has already set its sites on the old Capital Bank site on Lincoln Avenue as its new Jonesborough location, having recently received a thumbs up from the Jonesborough Planning Commission.

Fast Pace Urgent Care is getting ready to break ground at its new site next to Dollar Tree on Jackson Boulevard. Little Caesars is set to take up residence just down the road.

And Weigel’s will soon begin grading at its new location at Headtown Road and Jackson Boulevard, Rosenoff said.

“They are developing the whole 10 acres right now,” the town administrator said. “They don’t just have plan for Weigel’s. They have future plans for the back of the property.”

Similar plans are also in place for the new Jonesborough Wine & Spirits complex, in construction on 11E and Persimmon Ridge Road. Though the new liquor store, which is approaching completion, means a welcome business expansion, Rosenoff said that the new site will also host a number of other businesses.

This growth along the Jonesborough corridor is welcome, Rosenoff said, but he was also quick to stress that a strong town also means a strong downtown, and that downtown has more than proven itself during a tough time.

“I want to give just a big shout out to our existing merchants downtown that have been riding this pandemic wave,” Rosenoff said. “Shopping local, that still has to be a strong goal for everyone.”

Gigi’s and Tennessee Tails Boutique are two new businesses downtown, and have joined the downtown merchants in maintaining Jonesborough’s strong appeal.

“I do want to say the town has a strong desire for existing businesses to maintain, to continue with their business and to help wherever we can,” Rosenoff said. He added that he recognizes a strong downtown is crucial to any type of Jonesborough growth.

Yet with more than 30,000 cars can running through Jonesborough along 11E at any given time, those cars always also represent possible revenue.

It is, he said, something of a balancing act. And the goal is to capture shoppers for both locations. 

“Our downtown is vibrant. It’s a must. It’s the core of the town,” Rosenoff explained. “At the other side, we have to be attractive to others who don’t go downtown – and that’s our commercial corridor. 

“So there is excitement when you have a strong downtown, and a concentration on maintaining a strong downtown, and also a strong corridor.”

It’s a mixture that should be hard to resist. And that mixture, along with a proposed new school and a renewed interest in rural rather than urban living, thanks to that 2020 pandemic, has encouraged growth in more than just the businesses. 

According to Rosenoff, “At least half a dozen subdivisions are either under development to at least accommodate new home construction or they are already existing (and growing).”

Many new-home buyers are looking to leave metropolitan areas. Others are drawn by the low tax rate, he said.

“You see cars from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Louisiana, Florida,” Rosenoff said. “I mean it’s a melting pot of people that are literally leaving where they were from.”

For many, the tax rate has become the final ingredient that continues to make Jonesborough irresistible. 

“Someone from New York came in the other day and their property taxes per month from where they are leaving is what they are paying per year here,” Rosenoff said. “I think it was $1,800 a year here and it was $18,000 a year there.”

“Jonesborough has to be prepared with the housing necessary to accommodate those people. And that is occurring. We’re filling that need.”