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Ring in the New Year! Looking Forward to 2017 Milestones on Key Redevelopment Projects 

If you’re looking for some end-of-the-year perspective – or just giddy about the upbeat possibilities for the new year – then keep your eye on three key Knoxville redevelopment projects throughout 2017.

The City’s Cumberland Avenue, South Waterfront and Magnolia Avenue projects will each hit major milestones in 2017:


Milestone: The reconstruction project, which began with Knoxville Utilities Board infrastructure improvements in April 2015, is scheduled to be completed by late 2017.

The City is investing $17 million in the Cumberland Avenue Corridor – a top-to-bottom reconstruction that aims to fix long-term chronic problems as well as help Cumberland Avenue reach its full potential as a vibrant retail, entertainment and residential district.

The existing four-lane Cumberland between 22nd and 17th streets is being remade into a safer, more pedestrian-friendly corridor with a three-lane cross section, a raised median and left-turn lanes at intersections. An earlier phase of work on the western end of Cumberland focused on improving traffic flow between the Alcoa Highway ramps and 22nd Street; that phase finished at the end of 2015, on time and under budget.

The City is fixing problems that have been around for decades – replacing pre-World War II utilities, relocating ugly utility lines and untangling traffic snarls. The project also is making Cumberland pedestrian- and transit-friendly – with wide new sidewalks, landscaping and KAT bus shelters and pull-outs.

“Cumberland Avenue is no longer viewed as a cut-through route, but more as a destination in its own right,” said Anne Wallace, the City’s Deputy Redevelopment Director who’s been managing the Cumberland reconstruction project. “Think of Cumberland evolving into a walkable, multi-use street – like Gay Street – with pedestrian-level retail, upper-level residents and office space.

“We’re seeing that happening already. The City’s $17 million investment in infrastructure has helped to leverage $190 million in private investment. The vibe is great. Property owners and patrons of the businesses are enthusiastic. Everyone wants to be a part of the exciting new Cumberland Avenue.”

Take a close look at the photo below, because it gives the viewer a pretty good idea of the good things to come in 2017.

Brick sidewalk detail, new streetlights give a hint at what the new Cumberland Avenue will look like by late next year.

The view faces westward, from a vantage point near the entrance to the Copper Cellar restaurant. On the right, check out the north side of the street – stylized black streetlight poles, decorative brick detail on the sidewalk, spaces where trees will be planted (using specially-designed silva cells to help nurture urban trees).

You won’t notice a tangle of utility lines – those lines have been moved to the alley to the north.

Compare the north side of Cumberland to the south side’s traditional streetlights, narrow sidewalks and dangling utility lines. Improvements to the south side, coming up in 2017!

Decorative brick sidewalks on the north side of Cumberland Avenue

New streetlights!


Milestone: The first of more than 1,300 people who will be residing and working along the section of the South Waterfront between the Henley and Gay Street bridges will be moving in by late 2017.

In 2016, the City’s $6.6 million Suttree Landing Park and Waterfront Drive opened on the South Waterfront. And on the east end of the waterfront, the River’s Edge 134-unit apartment complex opened. This $14 million private investment, supplemented with a $2.5 million investment in new public infrastructure, included a realignment of Island Home Avenue and an 800-foot public riverwalk.

Bike lanes were added along Sevier Avenue, and small businesses – some assisted with City commercial façade grants – began to flourish. All to set the stage for upcoming Sevier Avenue streetscape improvements.

The 2016 investments are just the start of anticipated robust redevelopment, to be anchored in 2017 by construction of offices and apartments on the now-vacant south side of the Henley and Gay Street bridges.

A $12 million renovation of a nine-story, 178,000-square-foot building next to the Gay Street Bridge is underway. In about a year, the former medical office building – vacant since 2008 – will be the world headquarters for Regal Entertainment Group. More than 400 Regal employees will work in the corporate HQ complex.

The City of Knoxville’s Industrial Development Board purchased the office building from Southeastern Development Associates (SEDA) for $6 million. On behalf of the City, the Industrial Development Board will lease the building to Regal, which will pay all taxes, insurance, maintenance costs and utility expenses for the building. Regal also will pay more than half the renovation costs for the building it will be leasing, with the option to purchase it. (The City contributed $3 million for renovations and improvements to the building; Knox County and the State of Tennessee added $1.5 million each. SEDA funded $500,000 for exterior improvements, and the Tennessee Valley Authority will provide a utility asset improvement grant.)

“It’s exciting that Regal’s renovations are happening and that, in about a year from now, we’ll be welcoming a major employer to our downtown,” said Dawn Michelle Foster, the City’s Redevelopment Director. “This is a game-changer for the South Waterfront and for all of downtown.”

SEDA, meanwhile, is constructing the $60 million Riverwalk at the Bridges luxury apartments at the former Baptist Hospital site – between the Gay Street and Henley bridges. University Housing Group is constructing the $35 million Riverfront Station student apartment complex, just west of the Henley Bridge.

Riverwalk at the Bridges site plan
Riverwalk at the Bridges site plan

Rendering of Riverfront Station
Rendering of Riverfront Station
The Riverwalk at the Bridges development will include 300 residential units, partnered with several public amenities that include a 1,100-foot public riverwalk, a center plaza between the east and west residences, a pocket park and a 37,500-square-foot public plaza at the Henley Bridge.

The Riverfront Station student housing development will be a five- to six-story apartment complex that will be home to more than 400 students. Its riverwalk will connect to the new residences on the former hospital site and eventually will tie in to the existing Cityview riverwalk.
Riverwalk at the Bridges is tentatively scheduled to open its first units in late 2017, while Riverfront Station is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018.

In late 2016, the most visible piece of the Riverwalk at the Bridges project is the interior parking garage. Apartments will be built around the garage next year.
In late 2016, the most visible piece of the Riverwalk at the Bridges project is the interior parking garage. Apartments will be built around the garage next year.

Rendering: View of Riverwalk at the Bridges from downtown, north of the Tennessee River.
Rendering: View of Riverwalk at the Bridges from downtown, north of the Tennessee River.

View from the City County Building on Dec. 29, 2016, of the future Regal Entertainment Group headquarters and the Riverwalk at the Bridges construction site.
Here's the view from the City County Building on Dec. 29, 2016, of the future Regal Entertainment Group headquarters and the Riverwalk at the Bridges construction site.


Milestone: Next spring, work will begin on the City’s Magnolia Avenue streetscapes project.

The City will be investing about $8 million to add streetscape amenities to a six-block section of Magnolia Avenue between Jessamine Street and North Bertrand Street.

Visit www.knoxvilletn.gov/magnolia to see renderings and plan details that were presented in January 2016 at a public meeting. East Knoxville residents and business owners can also visit the site to read an endorsement of the project by City Councilman Daniel Brown and review documents and plans developed with public input over the past eight years, dating back to the 2009 Magnolia Avenue Corridor Plan.

Proposed improvements include adding a gateway monument to serve as a welcoming entryway, connecting East Knoxville and downtown; landscaped medians that will replace the center left-turn lane; improved bike lanes; and bus pull-offs. Other streetscape amenities will include attractive new black LED pedestrian and street lights, wider sidewalks, benches and bike racks. Left-turn lanes will be provided at major intersections, and crosswalks will be colored and patterned to enhance both aesthetics and pedestrian safety. KUB will perform some upgrades on water and sewer lines, and electric lines will be placed underground. New trees will anchor the complete urban landscape design.

“The enhancements along Magnolia Avenue will transform this wide corridor into a beautiful boulevard that will be a complete street to better serve the community and create opportunities for private development interests,” Foster said. “The City is committed to continue our work with the residents to meet their needs and create a sense of place that will benefit the families, business owners and stakeholders who take pride in the Magnolia Avenue area.”

Construction for an $8 million investment in Magnolia Avenue streetscapes is scheduled to start in 2017.

An $8 million investment in Magnolia Avenue streetscapes is scheduled to start construction in 2017.

So – be sure and take note of the 2017 milestones with the City’s Cumberland Avenue, South Waterfront and Magnolia Avenue projects. But these three projects aren’t the only ones that will generate headlines and grab attention in the new year.


Tombras Group

You’ve already been seeing cranes and active construction as The Tombras Group’s $10 million overhaul of the old KUB Building has gotten under way in earnest. The Tombras Group by the end of 2017 is expected to move into its new 50,000-square-foot offices, which eventually will house about 250 employees in the 600 block of South Gay Street. A coffee shop will anchor 5,000 square feet of street-level retail space. The City is offering Tax Increment Financing assistance to help close the financing gap in redeveloping the huge building, which has been vacant for more than 16 years.

Farragut Hotel

Extensive renovation of the Farragut Hotel, on the corner of Gay Street and Clinch Avenue, is underway. The $22 million private investment was made possible by a City PILOT package, assistance to the development team in securing a federal loan, and access to State Street Garage parking. Like The Tombras Group’s KUB building, the nine-story Farragut Hotel has been mostly vacant for many years. Knoxville-based Dover Development is expected to open the 165-room Hyatt Place hotel, with street-level retail, in fall 2017.

State Supreme Court

The City is currently negotiating a contract with Dover Development on the redevelopment of a downtown block that was formerly home to the Tennessee State Supreme Court. The City received four proposals for development of the 1.7-acre site, bounded by Henley Street, Cumberland Avenue, Locust Street and Church Avenue. The proposal for a mixed-use project from Dover Development was ranked highest by a City evaluation committee. City officials will negotiate with Dover with the intent of reaching an agreement to submit for City Council approval sometime in early 2017. The City purchased the mostly vacant surplus property from the State of Tennessee last year for $2.47 million.

The Tennessean

Look for The Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel & Residences to open in 2017 at 531 Henley St., with views overlooking downtown, World’s Fair Park and the Smoky Mountains. The former state office building is being transformed into an 82-guestroom hotel and 12 residences – a $28 million private investment by a development team headed by Commercial and Investment Properties. The City is providing Payment in Lieu of Taxes assistance to The Tennessean, as well as making a $2.7 million investment in public infrastructure in the western end of downtown. To improve the experience of pedestrians and bicyclists approaching World's Fair Park and the Convention Center, the City has rejuvanted the pedestrian bridge crossing Henley Street with frosted glass and decorative lighting. Streetscape amenities have added to Clinch Avenue, and canopies have been added or upgraded that connect the Convention Center with three hotels.

Pryor Brown Garage

Initial work has started on the transformation of the 90-year-old 76,000-square-foot Pryor Brown Garage at Market Street and Church Avenue into a mixed-use development with condominiums and street-level storefronts. Dover Development and the garage’s owners, Mike and Kelly Conley, have been approved for TIF assistance to help close the gap on financing the extensive $9 million restoration. The first condominiums are expected to be built and occupied by 2018.

Marble Alley Lofts

The majority of redevelopment projects in the center city have involved the restoration and reuse of older iconic buildings. But in 2016, there also was construction of modern new buildings. Marble Alley Lofts, the first major new-construction residential development since the resurgence of downtown began more than a decade ago, officially opened March 2. The City and Knox County are supporting the Marble Alley development project with PILOT assistance, and the City also has committed $1.5 million in public infrastructure improvements – new sidewalks, streetlights and landscaping on State Street, Central Street and Commerce Avenue. Marble Alley, located between State Street and Central Street, has long-range plans to add to its initial 248 units.

Regas Square

Look for construction to start on Conversion Properties’ $36 million Regas Square – more than 100 condominiums plus restaurants, retail and parking – on Depot Avenue. The development, assisted by a City and County-backed TIF package, is expected to open in 2018.


Posted by evreeland On 30 December, 2016 at 12:05 PM