Back in July, I talked about the grand opening of a Wal-Mart store on what had been the site of a long abandoned Endicott-Johnson factory. Some people were saying that Wal-Mart might be the salvation of downtown Johnson City. Unlike other communities who protested Wal-Mart coming to town, many people seemed optimistic about its coming.
It now appears these people were right about the revitalization of downtown Johnson City. Let's all cross fingers because this village needs all the revitalization it can get.
Yes, we are talking about the same village that nearly dissolved itself last year (and this still may happen.)
Downtown Johnson City (Johnson City, fyi, is a small village of about 13,000. that saw its glory days end years ago)
There is definitely activity in those storefronts. Some of the businesses have relocated from Binghamton or other areas. One is a business that was on Main Street for years, moved to a side street, and is now returning to Main Street. At least one, though, is a reflection of the changing nature of our population - a Middle Eastern restaurant.
No doubt, Johnson City still has problems. Despite recent arrests, gangs are a constant presence. However, this is the first activity other than people leaving in -well, years.
So why did Wal-Mart help? No surprise there. People are coming there to shop, and coming from certain directions they have to drive through downtown Johnson City. It's as simple as that. Businesses are hoping to pick up on this.
Look what Wal-Mart did for the Vestal Parkway in the nearby Town of Vestal.
It could happen to Johnson City.
How ironic that Wal-Mart, once accused of destroying downtowns, could possibly now revitalize them. Are we the only community in this country to experience that? (full disclosure, I do not live in the Village of Johnson City, but I have family members with roots in the Village.)
Keep fingers crossed.