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The Guitar Center planning new location in Johnson City

David Floyd • Updated Jul 27, 2019 at 12:17 AM

A national music store plans to put down roots in a growing part of Johnson City.

The Guitar Center, which offers lessons, repairs and rentals, will open an 11,000-square-foot store at 3023 Peoples St. in Johnson City in 2020.

“The new store will offer customers a hands-on music experience with a wide array of gear to help musicians find their sound — wherever they are on their musical journey,” the company said in a statement. 

“In addition to carrying the latest products for musicians, the location will feature a variety of musician services including: Guitar Center Lessons, a convenient and affordable music education experience for players of all ages and skill levels, GC Repairs, an on-site maintenance and repairs service and GC Rentals, providing easy rentals of instruments and other gear.”

The company hasn’t decided on a precise opening day. According to a building permit application sent to Johnson City, the cost of materials and labor for the construction of the new building will be $1.1 million.

The property is owned by Trinity Development Partners.

John Abernathy, president of Blackwater Real Estate in Birmingham, Alabama, which is one of three development partners that make up Trinity Development Partners, said the Guitar Center had been looking for a place to put down roots in Johnson City.

“Guitar Center obviously has a loyal following even in today’s world of online sales,” Abernathy said. “In the music business ... touching and feeling and listening is really important to making a decision in buying that kind of product.”

Its website says the Guitar Center has more than 260 stores across the U.S. The company’s music and arts division also operates more than 120 stores that offer the sale and rental of band and orchestral equipment. The company’s corporate address is in Westlake Village, California.

“I think in this environment and in this area of Johnson City, they believe and we believe that they’re going to do really well,” Abernathy said.

Johnson City is currently home to other music stores, including Campbell’s Morrell Music on West Market Street and Cates Music Center on West Walnut Street.

Trinity Development Partners owns three additional parcels along Peoples Street, which will fill space on the 20-acre property that used to be set aside for parking. Abernathy said Trinity is marketing those parcels, but there aren’t yet any definite plans.

“We are working with several businesses on those parcels, and hopefully we can bring those forward soon,” he said.

According to a concept plan posted on the Blackwater Real Estate website, the 20-acre property also includes space for three anchor businesses, which now includes At Home, a home goods store that recently opened, and Hobby Lobby, which Abernathy said will open in a couple weeks.

The Guitar Center will open in a growing part of Johnson City. The city recently installed a new traffic light at the intersection of Peoples Street and Greenline Road, which is intended to help address back-up along the roads.

Preston Mitchell, the development services director with Johnson City, said the site now owned by Trinity Development Partners, which used to be home to a Kmart, is a “hot piece of property” that has drawn the attention of people from across the state for its potential retail use.

“There was a lot of excitement around it when it was purchased and then plans were submitted for the adaptive reuse and subdivision,” Mitchell said.

Washington County property records show Trinity Development Partners purchased the property from Johnson City United in October 2018 for $8.8 million.

Mitchell said it’s also exciting to see infill expansion in the form of out parcels occurring in the property’s parking lot, which creates an additional tax base out of what once was “a sea of parking.”

The proximity of the property to residential areas, the center of the city, a major thoroughfare and the interstate makes it an appealing location for retail, Mitchell said.

“It kind of checks all the boxes,” he said.

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