Ribbon Cutting at the Emporium Building

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Ribbon Cutting at the Emporium Building

Posted: 08/09/2007
A ribbon cutting celebrated the opening of the renovated studio and meeting room space on the first floor of the Emporium Building this morning after dancers warmed up in the newly completed space. Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam; Liza Zenni, executive director of the Arts & Culture Alliance of Knoxville; the Alliance's chairman, Jeff Chapman and Jon Kinsey, the developer whose firm renovated the 5,000-square-foot space were among those who took part in the ceremony. "This is a great day that a lot of people have been eagerly waiting for," Haslam said. "This space fills a need that we've had for several months and it's going to be a great addition to the Emporium Building and to the entire city." The Emporium Building, located at 100 S. Gay Street, is home to the Arts & Culture Alliance, several artists' studios and a handful of other organizations devoted to various arts.

The City of Knoxville leases the century-old building from its owner, developer David Dewhirst. The newly renovated first floor fills a need that has existed since the city sold the Candy Factory and Victorian Houses to Kinsey Probasco Hays, a Chattanooga-based development firm, last year. As part of that deal Kinsey Probasco Hays agreed to renovate the floor to replace dance studio and meeting room space that had been in the Candy Factory.

The $1.82 million the city received from the sale of the Candy Factory and the Victorians - which cumulatively needed at least $3 million to $4 million in improvements - funded a $1 million renovation of the Sunsphere and an ongoing $850,000 renovation of the Tennessee Amphitheater. "With the sale of those buildings were able to make improvements to those two World's Fair icons and develop this wonderful space, without using taxpayer funds," Haslam said. "So it has been a winning situation for everyone."

A million dollars that had been earmarked for the Sunsphere improvements has now been shifted into upcoming sidewalk projects in the Fountain City and Austin-East High School areas. Dancers from Circle Modern Dance warmed up as visitors streamed into the space for the ceremony Thursday.

The building is located on a block that has become home to several galleries and artists and has become one of the central focal points of the city's artistic community. "This just adds a great piece to the fabric of what has become a thriving arts center in our city," Haslam said.