Harriman shows off for prospects

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By Cindy Simpson

Sunshine and the excitement and pride of Harriman residents painted a tapestry of what the city of Harriman is, was and could be.
Mariann D’Alessandro moved here several years ago. She remembers buying her shoes from the old Edwards Shoe Store and the beautiful nights walking her dogs around downtown.
“I think now nobody realizes how nice it was. It made an impact on me,” she said.
“Honest to God, I love this town.”

Volunteers like D’Alessandro  showed off downtown commercial and residential buildings to would-be owners Saturday as part of Prospect 14, an endeavor to relinquish the city buildings that once housed Roane Medical Center-related services.
The hope is that those empty buildings won’t just be filled, but will be new homes for successful businesses and families.
“I want to see sales tax revenue coming in—good businesses to build up the community,” said Bill Alexander of the Harriman Industrial Development Board.
“I’d like to see good people get in there and make houses out of them.”
Several people viewed the buildings with a clear vision of what they sought, while others looked for potential inspiration.
Wendell Smith and his sister Kay Stout said they were interested in looking at one of the large brick homes at 319 Devonia St. and a Roane Street building for not only a business venture, but to live above.
Smith first came to look at what is known as the annex building.
“He said it would be the perfect place to put a business and live on top,” Stout said.
Smith operates a salvage business and is looking for office space, but the pair also discussed having a salon in a building.
Harriman Mayor Chris Mason took Smith up to look at part of the downtown buildings, some of which includes hardwood floors and large quarters of the old Roane Medical Center administrative suite.
“Get your checkbook ready,” Smith quipped as he followed Mason to look at what is known as the Yeargen building.
Councilman Ken Mynatt believes that downtown has a great future, although it won’t be the kind of bustling area people remember in communities in the 1950s.
“It has to got to be niche. It is never going to be a destination shopping center. That is just a thing of the past,” Mynatt said.
“I would like to see a restaurant/pub. We need something in this area right here close to the Princess Theatre. The potential we have right now and the enthusiasm being shown here today toward what we are trying to accomplish is just fantastic,” Mynatt said.
He added that the industrial board won’t be interested in necessarily the highest offer, but the best project for the property and community.
“The use of the building is the most important criteria,” Mynatt said.
The deadline for proposals is July 8.