In the Fall of 2016, what was once known as an emblem of blight in downtown Johnson City will soon be a magnet for family fun and fitness.

Built in 1931, the former Central Tobacco Warehouse building, located at 113 Cherry Street — adjacent to the Portico Restaurant — is being transformed into a new shopping center, branded as the “Cherry Street Commons.”

Owner Philip Cox, development partner at Mitch Cox Companies, said the historic nature of the building will be structurally preserved but significant renovations will occur, including a new roof, new façade, new floors, and new HVAC systems.

Cox said, “I am excited for the opportunity to redevelop a key piece of property in downtown Johnson City; the visibility, proximity to Roan Street and the downtown square, along with the parking from the Cherry Street lot allows this to be a first class development.”

The building’s 42,000 square feet will be subdivided for several new tenants in 2016, the first of which is Olson’s Martial Arts Academy.

Founded in 1997, Olson’s Martial Arts Academy provides Taekwondo, Tai Chi, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Weaponry, and Boxing classes for all ages at its Johnson City and Kingsport locations. The self-defense training and fitness operation is more than doubling its Johnson City space – by moving its 5,000 square foot location on Roan Street to the 12,000+ square foot space in the new downtown Cherry Street location.

The academy’s owners, Glenn and Amanda Olson, have been teaching martial arts since 1988. Together with their son and daughter, they own and operate – and instruct – at the company, in addition to 30 employees.

“We look forward to supporting the growth of downtown — we have 430 enrolled students, so we expect around 200 families to come through daily at 5-6 hour time spans,” Olson said, “Our students are very excited about [the move].”

The layout of the space is perfect, says Olson. The front half of the building will feature over twice the waiting area for parents, a coffee bar, private lesson rooms, and workstation offices. The posterior half is divided into three 2200 square foot training rooms, each divided by curtains so one large training room can be made.

Olson’s Martial Arts Academy supports the community through raising money for St. Jude’s, and works with Johnson City schools to provide anti-bullying clubs and at-risk kids programs for free.

Cox said, “Many of us are excited to see the bolstering of family-oriented customers in downtown that Olson’s Martial Arts Academy and other future tenants will bring.”

In April 2016, Mitch Cox Companies announced the Owl’s Nest as the second tenant, occupying over 10,000 square feet in the newly redeveloped old tobacco warehouse in Downtown Johnson City.

Currently, Brian and Jessica Moore own both Little Hoot Boutique and The Nest located on South Roan Street in Johnson City. The Little Hoot Boutique is a children’s store, carrying clothing, toys and other merchandise for kids. The Nest is an adult clothing store carrying jewelry and clothing for both men and women. When relocated, the two stores will be combined to create the Owl’s Nest.

Jessica Moore says the advantage of moving is that it, “puts both companies under one roof and one name. It also gives us more space, which we need.” Even though the move is only a short distance, Moore feels that it could lead to new clientele. “I think we’ll still have the same clientele, but it may help us reach more college students.”

In 2010, Jessica Moore opened Little Hoot Boutique in Johnson City. After growth and success, Moore decided to open another clothing store for adults. Thus, The Nest was launched. The Moore family moved from Louisiana to Johnson City in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina. The Nest is slated to open in fourth quarter 2016.