New event venue coming to downtown Elizabethton

Published 8:53 am Monday, October 21, 2019

New businesses are popping up left and right along East Elk Avenue in Elizabethton. Sawdust, wet paint signs and ladders are becoming a common sight, and Elizabethton entrepreneur Tracie Mosley Young is right smack in the middle of it all.

Young is enthusiastic about downtown Elizabethton’s future, and she isn’t shy about telling anyone who will listen how much potential there is on East Elk. To prove it, she bought Building 520 three years ago, and developed it into a successful marketplace for 50-plus vendors to sell their retail and handmade goods.

Now, she is at it again. Young is the new owner of the building next door to Building 520, the old Tammy’s Cafeteria building, and she has big plans.

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“Finally, I’m getting to do something I’ve dreamed of doing for years,” she said. “I’m going to create something that people want to be a part of.”

That “something” will be a new two-story event venue in the heart of downtown Elizabethton.

There are a lot of moving parts to Young’s plan. First the former cafeteria building, soon to be renamed “Five One Eight”, will become the new home for the 50+ merchants and vendors currently occupying her marketplace right next door, Building 520.

Once that move takes place, probably around the first of the year, Young says she will finally get to work on her heart’s desire — developing Building 520 into a downtown event venue that will eventually accommodate 275 people on two floors, with the second floor opening onto the rooftop of neighboring Five One Eight to create a rooftop patio.

One would be hard pressed to find anyone working so hard looking any happier. Taking a break to talk, she flipped a large plastic bucket upside down and plopped down on it in the midst of the paint brushes, the galvanized tin, the mess. She was grinning from ear to ear.

“I am so tired, but I’m just so excited,” she said, her smile never fading. “It’s finally happening. Building 520 is finally going to start its purpose.” “From the beginning I’ve always wanted an event venue,” Young continued. “I have a background in cruise line work where I planned everything for large groups, people getting together and enjoying themselves through events.

“I’ve been able to travel all over — stateside and overseas — and I’ve seen downtowns that have breathed life into their historic buildings, and brought community together through restoring the old while intertwining the new. I wanted a little piece of that in my small town.”

With the goal of creating an event space always in the back of her mind, Young says she has been delighted with the success and support the marketplace, Building 520, has received.

“It was such a wonderful surprise and start in the community,” she said. “So, we are going to continue with that and build on it here at Five One Eight.”

Five One Eight will offer more than just retail space. It will also include a new classroom space, managed by local artist and art instructor Marcia Ross, for classes such as cake decorating, string art, jewelry making and more, and it will be available to rent.

There will also be a new licensed commercial kitchen, which will not only serve the event center next door, but local farmers can utilize it to prepare their produce for retail sale.

Meanwhile Building 520 will be completely gutted and transformed to offer an “urban lifestyle in a rural community.” With plans to eventually make her home on the top level, Young says the bottom two floors will provide the event space.

“My building is one of the biggest buildings that opens up onto another 5,000 square foot space — the rooftop of Five One Eight,” Young added. “This is just such a unique opportunity.”

She plans to open the first floor of the event center in 8-10 months, in time for next year’s prom and graduation parties and sports banquets. The second floor and the rooftop patio venues will take a bit longer, and she estimates the whole project will take 1-1/2 – 2 years.

“Definitely it’s scary, but exciting, because just in the time I’ve been here I’ve seen the climate change,” Young said. “People are wanting to come downtown. Businesses are starting to stay open in the evening and people are supporting them.

“We saw how people got excited about Evenings on Elk — people were starved for something like that. We don’t want people to have to go elsewhere; we want to have it right here.”

She motioned to the front glass window of Five One Eight. “Tammy’s Cafeteria sat here empty for ten years and it still had the old logo on the window,” she said. “I was able to scrape off the years of abandonment and now I’m going to open the door to something that people want to be a part of. I’m going to be creating something, that when people walk away, they will be smiling, happy because they made memories. That’s what I’ve been working toward for three years. This is a big part of the legacy I want to leave behind. I want to do this for my town.”