Second Floor of Historic Building Opens

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Second Floor of Historic Building Opens

Posted: 11/14/2006
Mayor Bill Haslam and Faris Eid, founder of Design Innovations Architects, Inc., and Dane Baker, owner of the Knoxville Voice to celebrated the opening of the second floor of the historic building at 402 S. Gay Street at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Mike Edwards, president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership, also spoke during the event.The two companies are located above Mast General Store and just beneath the Gallery Lofts in the four-story building which once housed the old downtown White Store.

The architecture firm, founded by Eid in 1989, has 19 employees while the bi-weekly independent newspaper has nine employees."This is a great day not only for Faris and Dane and their companies but also for Knoxville and downtown," Haslam said. "When they get settled here this beautiful building will be something of a microcosm of what we want to see across downtown. It will contain a mix of retail, business and residential elements all under one roof."

"That's what we want to see, a thriving mix of people living, working, shopping and playing downtown." Design Innovations Architects Inc. moved into the building a few days ago, relocating from its previous home on Clinch Avenue in Fort Sanders.

The move is something of a realization of a dream for Eid, a longtime downtown advocate who has played an active role in redevelopment efforts not only at DIA but also as part of Gay Street Development Partners with Wayne Blasius and John Craig.

The partnership developed the 402 S. Gay Street building."I am very excited about the firm's move downtown, especially into this historic building," Eid said. "Two years ago, DIA was part of the original renovations which generated the new façade and storefront as well as the gutting of the structure; then last year, DIA was commissioned by Mast General Store to design their new retail store.

"During the process the opportunity came up for the firm to be part of the building as well. "Once we started negotiating with Mast regarding the concept of buying the second floor for our office, the entire staff was delighted with the decision," Eid said, "and we couldn't wait to move into our new space. Being downtown reinforces our work here and reflects our support of its revitalization.

"It's a perfect fit for us," he said.Other downtown projects of Design Innovations Architects include The Phoenix, 29 Market Square, the Knoxville Chamber Partnership, Pete's Coffee Shop and The Art Market Gallery.

Eid was also instrumental with Knox Heritage and the City of Knoxville in the development of the final joint use plan of the 500 block of Gay Street, where the Regal Theatre will coexist with the historic structures including the S&W Cafeteria building.Baker said the Knoxville Voice would be moving into its space the week of Nov. 20th.

"Downtown is really the political and cultural center of Knoxville, and relocating allows our paper to better reflect the concerns and experiences of the city," Baker said. "We're excited to support this neighborhood of people who are active, aware, and connected to the community."

The Gallery Lofts are currently for sale and will be ready for their new owners in January 2007.

Mast General Store opened on the first floor and basement of the building earlier this year. "This building is a blueprint for what downtown was historically, and is becoming again," said Wayne Blasius, "a multi-use place where people can live, work and play all within easy walking distance - and sometimes all under the same roof."