Glade Spring reawakens with new business plans

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Chef Bradley Griffin’s new Sarah Jean’s Eatery is in Glade Spring’s Town Square.
Photo by Carolyn Wilson/courtesy SWVA Today

In Town Square, the commercial and social heart of Glade Spring, a new farm-to-table bistro and two mixed-use projects with six storefronts are likely to reawaken the Washington County town of 1,400, which has seen economic development fits and starts over the last decade.

Jamie Greeson, a Bristol, Tennessee, licensed professional counselor who grew up visiting her grandparents in Glade Spring, closed in July on an unoccupied two-story, turn-of-the-20th-century brick building in the former railroad town. Greeson paid Glade Spring’s former mayor, Lee Coburn, less than $70,000 for the property, which includes four storefronts, plus two large second-floor apartments and a basement. Extensive renovations are in the works, and Greeson plans to file paperwork with the state for historic tax credits. 

Working with Project Glade, a local group of economic boosters, Greeson hopes to recruit tenants to start businesses such as a bakery, a paint-your-own pottery business, a florist’s shop or an entrepreneurial space for college students.

Next door to Greeson’s building, Abingdon-based developer John Hargroves also purchased a building from Coburn. The $73,500 space has two storefronts. Hargroves plans to open a taproom to highlight area breweries but won’t be brewing beer himself, says Town Council Member Dirk Moore. 

The newest presence in Town Square is chef Bradley Griffin’s bistro, Sarah Jean’s Eatery. Opened in July, the bistro serves locally sourced foods. It shares space with Bradley’s Wallowing Whistlepig Sauce Co., Griffin’s hot sauce business. The restaurant space was “meant to be, and everything just felt right,” says Griffin, who has worked at other regional farm-to-table restaurants.

Project Glade, formed after Coburn left office in 2014, has won several state and federal grants to encourage new businesses and beautify the town, which has struggled with blight. The group’s latest project is starting a wellness center, and it has applied for $2 million in federal grants to achieve this goal.

Greeson, who purchased her grandparents’ former home not far from Town Square a decade ago, says she and her husband hope to retire there in a few years. In the meantime, she wants to provide new business opportunities to Glade Spring residents and newcomers. “We’re hoping if we build it, they will come.”

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