An empty two-acre lot along West Walnut Street that has at different times been home to several nightclubs is approaching redevelopment.
The Well, a 23-year Christian ministry serving East Tennessee State University students, purchased the properties at 812 and 820 W. Walnut St. in December 2018.
He plans to build a student center on the ground, which will include a 600-seat auditorium and a café. There, the organization will host worship services, Bible studies and other events.
“Our mission is to reach out to students for Christ, to see believers grow in their path of faith, and to equip students to reach their campus, their community and the world with the message of Jesus Christ,” said James McNeill, director of the Department of The Well. .
McNeill said the organization had about $ 2.75 million pledged or on hand to meet its goal of $ 5.5 million for the project, which includes the cost of the land.
“We’re still in the middle of this campaign to raise funds to make it happen,” McNeill said.
The ministry had initially hoped to start construction on the project in the fall of 2020, but the pandemic has complicated matters.
“We are making great strides, but like everyone else, COVID has launched its unique challenges in this process,” he said.
The organization now hopes to begin construction by the end of 2021.
The property previously housed The Library, a nightclub which suffered severe damage and eventually closed after a fire in 2016. The building was demolished in 2019. According to previous press reports, the property was also occupied by the Tu -The-. Fe and Seahorse nightclubs in the 1970s and 1980s as well as The Planet and Chrome.
As the city prepares to begin rehabilitation work on West Walnut Street, McNeill said it would be exciting to see the corridor become a stronger link between the ETSU and the city center.
“We feel like we play a unique role on Walnut Street,” McNeill said. “We are drawn to Walnut Street because it is within walking distance of the university, so our ministry will be strategically positioned for students to walk to us. We believe our role is to connect students to the West Walnut Street corridor. “
Currently, the organization meets for its services at the King’s Center in downtown Johnson City.
“We want to be as close to the university as possible,” McNeill said. “University facilities tend to be limited and we need a permanent place where we can meet and serve students on an ongoing basis. “
McNeill said the center provides The Well with the opportunity to develop its ministry and also provides a permanent space to “reach out to students for the cause of Christ.” It also puts the organization on a busy street.
Those interested in donating can contact the organization through its website, thewell2020.com, or they can call the office at 232-9355.
McNeill said proximity to the campus was the main reason the department was drawn to the West Walnut Street lot.
“But for 20 years we have prayed over this place and asked God to transform it,” McNeill said of the earth, “and it’s amazing that we have the opportunity to transform it into a place where the Jesus’ name will be celebrated and the lives of students will be transformed for his glory.