A Closer Look at Downtown

I have noticed whilst walking my dogs that there are a lot of buildings around downtown Bristol (literally and obviously within walking distance of my neighborhood) that are vacant.  It makes me wish I had the money to invest in one of the buildings and do something with it.  Everyone I talk to have a lot of good ideas that would bring more attention, capital, and growth to downtown.  I wish I had the opportunity to occupy any one of the following buildings for a yer, rent free.. what’s the worst that could happen?  I could turn a mean profit, have a dance club for younger people to go to, to keep them from getting into any trouble.  There would be more jobs, more money going back into the community, and therefore, more growth.  That would also lead to tourist attractions, which would make the growth explode out of control (read more ideas about that in this interview with Bethany Wilson).  Yes, this is mainly going to be a photo-blog entry, and just to kick it off, check out all the vacant buildings just on the Virginia side of State Street.

On Piedmont Ave. Across from the YMCA ballfield.

In all my research, I haven’t been able to find a definite date and history of this place.  But I know it’s been vacant since I moved here, about 7 years ago and who knows how long before then?  It has ample parking space, the upstairs could be turned into even more luxury loft apartments to supplement the ones available on State Street.  These could be more affordable, with a pretty good view, and a huge yard.  There are tons of ideas I have had for this place.  Night club, car showroom, yard sale center (more on that later, it’s different than a flea market), or even a fitness center.  Seriously, how big of a pool would you be able to fit in this monster?  Also, the tiny brown building to the right of the Holston Steel building is vacant.  Can we say administration buildings for our fitness center/bar/juice bar/showroom/rocket launching site?  All it would take is a few willing investors.

Pictured: Dilapidation. Hardcore dilapidation.

These buildings are directly across the street from the first picture.  I have no idea what was therebefore, but I’d put money down saying that these buildings have been vacant/abandoned for a lot longer than Holston Steel.  To the right of this picture, the road forks like a miniature on-ramp to Piedmont.  With the right idea, and a little bit of work, even one of these buildings could make Piedmont Avenue a destination, instead of a through-way from Euclid Ave. to State Street.  I don’t know, a coffee shop, or a little nick-nack store, off the beaten path?

Another vacancy.

This building is supposed to be the Home of the Bristol Fire House Museum.  It’s a project that has been underway for a long time.  I’m not going to harp on the people behind this project, because I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic when it is done, but can we get an ETA on the Grand Opening?

More Possibilities...

The Central Warehouse Corp. building is right across the street from the Police Department.  There has been some rumors about it being turned into a Federal building, and there are always (that I’ve seen) Government vehicles parked out front of here.  But still!  This is another example of wasted opportunities the City has to turn a profit to attract more businesses.  One investor.  Just one.  That’s all we need.

Where is everything?

When I took this picture, I assumed the building behind the Honey-Do building (the green one) was vacant.  I learned shortly thereafter though, that it is a church.  It’s easy to assume that some of these buildings are vacant, and I catch myself doing it a lot.  But the buildings to the far right of the picture are not occupied.  Seriously, if we were to invest and open up these buildings for different businesses, there would be almost as much to do in downtown Bristol as there is in Asheville NC.  I love that place.  This could be a dog bakery, or [something that I’ve always wanted to open up] a LAN party space.  Everyone loves video games, or maybe that’s just the nerd in me.  But, how epic would it be to cram a few hundred young people in here for a weekend and engage them in a Halo: Reach tournament with a $10 buy in that gave out cash & prizes to the top 5?

Smack on State St.

The yellow letters on this deteriorating building read “Alberts Pawnbrokers”.  I don’t think Albert is around anymore, and someone needs to snatch this location up.  Seeing all of these things makes me want to pay my bills off sooner so I can take a loan out to open up shop and start making my own money.  I don’t think Albert would mind if I turned this into a shop of distinct taste and made it uniquely nerdy.

Hello? Anyone home?

Is there anything you notice about these pictures?  Aside from the vacant buildings, there’s no foot traffic here.  Why is that?  There’s not a whole lot to do for younger people downtown.  Honestly, I love going down there, but I have a lot of different hobbies and the shops down on State Street fulfill a lot of them, but nowhere near all of them.  There are buildings big enough to put skate parks in, which would not only be awesome for the youth of Bristol and the entire Tri-Cities, but would help out the local businesses!  Everywhere downtown has a “no skateboarding” sign, so why not give the kids a place to do it, away from businesses, away from people, and in a place designed for it?  I remember when I was growing up in Northern Virginia, VANS opened up a skate park in our local mall.  You have no idea the widespread acceptance that place got from parents of kids who skateboarded, roller-bladed, or rode a bike.  They didn’t have to worry about their kids going out all over town and hurting themselves, other people, or getting in trouble.  Who says that can’t or wouldn’t happen here?

I don't want it to turn into a ghost town down here.

This place, the Hayes Furniture building is open to the public every once in a while.  Rhythm and Roots, for example opened this building to sell CDs, and band memorabilia.  Otherwise it’s used for storage.  I particularly love this building.  This is the one I would pick for a skate park, or a LAN party building.  It would be awesome.  The big windows in the front would give passers-by an opportunity to see what’s going on inside and try to be a part of it.  I might even put some fancy velvet ropes out front and coax my huge baby brother to stand at the door with a clipboard and an earpiece.  But that’s just me.

There's nothing right about this picture.

I don’t even want to comment on this place.  I don’t know who would get their dental needs filled at a drive up place like this.  I have no idea.  Next picture please!

These places are all on or near the corner of State and Commonwealth.  Even the gas station is vacant.  It was a BP that closed its doors shortly after the whole spill ordeal.  I don’t know if it was related, and there are rumors going around that the building has been bought by another company.  I don’t know what they plan on doing with it, or if it will remain a gas station, but I still see out-of-towners pulling up to the pump, sticking their card in and waiting for something to happen.  It makes me chuckle.

Another building Near Andy’s market on Commonwealth, a block away from State Street that isn’t occupied, and from the looks of it, hasn’t been for a while.  What are the possibilities of this place?  This is why everyone goes to Johnson City to find things to do.  I’m not trying to belittle JC or anything, but why should we have to drive 45 minutes to go to a decent mall, or find other stores and activities to do?  We have all the necessary utensils and ingredients here.  Is there a cook in the house?  Can we get a Chef to mix everything we need together to have a more successful downtown area?

...so to sum up...

All of this on the route I walk my dogs.  And when I sat them down and told them what I thought about all of this, and how much could be done, this is what I got…

…My sentiments exactly.

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2 Responses to “A Closer Look at Downtown”

  1. makes me want to drink alchoholic beverages

  2. Very interesting WWW. Cool man. Keep doing it.

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