Sales of Candy Factory and Victorian Houses Fund Renovations for Sunsphere & Tennessee Amphitheater

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Sales of Candy Factory and Victorian Houses Fund Renovations for Sunsphere & Tennessee Amphitheater

Posted: 01/30/2007
Mayor Bill Haslam announced today that the planned renovations of the Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater can be completed without using taxpayer funds.

The $1 million that had been previously budgeted for the Sunsphere will be used to build sidewalks in three different Knoxville communities.

"This is the result of our efforts to restore and renovate the Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater and give the citizens of Knoxville the best possible World's Fair Park that we can," Haslam said.

The mayor said he hopes that both the Sunsphere and the Amphitheater will be back in use as soon as this fall.

"What a great way to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the World's Fair," Haslam added, "by restoring two icons of that special event."

Haslam said the city is ready to sign a contract with Kinsey Probasco Hays, which will allow it to operate a food service business inside the Sunsphere, as well as reopen the observation deck.

Other businesses are also expected to be located in the Sunsphere and the city will spend $1 million on the restoration of the structure.

The city will also spend $850,000 to restore the roof of the Amphitheater and take other steps necessary to prepare it for public use again.

Both measures go before City Council Tuesday night.

The funds for the projects will come from monies the city obtained in the 2005 sale of the Candy Factory and Victorian Houses.

Wednesday's announcement is the result of a process that began in 2004 when Mayor Haslam proposed, and city council approved, $1 million for the renovation of the Sunsphere.

At the same time the city issued requests for proposals for the World's Fair Park assets including the Sunsphere, Tennessee Amphitheater, Candy Factory and the Victorian Houses.

There were no viable proposals for the amphitheater but the city ultimately accepted a $1.82 million offer in 2005 for the Candy Factory and the Victorian Houses.

It would have cost taxpayers $10 million over the next 10 years to renovate and operate those structures.

Last year the city agreed to sell its Poplar Street parking lot, located on what used to be the south end of the old World's Fair Site, to Gameday/ Trammel Crow for $600,000.

The proceeds from those sales are paying for the renovations to both the Sunsphere and Amphitheater as well as paying the costs associated with relocating the city's Arts and Crafts Center to its new location on Broadway.

The dance studios and meeting rooms that were previously in the Candy Factory will be located in the renovated first floor of the Emporium Building downtown. Work has already begun on that project.

The sales also allow the city to take the $1 million initially budgeted for the Sunsphere renovations and use them for sidewalk projects in Fountain City, along Jacksboro Pike and near Austin-East High School.