Hollywood Road Closed as Improvements Being Made

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Hollywood Road Closed as Improvements Being Made

Posted: 10/29/2019
Construction of new multi-family housing on Hollywood Road will control long-standing flooding issues in the area, temporarily inconveniencing local drivers but ultimately resulting in improvements that will benefit all users of Hollywood. 

Nashville-based housing developer Elmington Capital Group has contracted with Charles Blaylock and Sons Inc. to construct The Flats at Pond Gap, a $22 million 102-unit affordable rental family housing complex on Hollywood Road. 

One condition placed on the development, following the conversations with Pond Gap neighbors and also with City staff, is road improvements that will close Hollywood Road to through traffic (including pedestrians and bicyclists) between Papermill Drive and Sutherland Avenue until February 2020. Residents and businesses on Hollywood will still be able to access their driveways during the closure. 

Alternate routes connecting Papermill Drive with Sutherland Avenue are Liberty Street and Northshore Drive. Road closure and detour signs are posted. 

“This is a unique situation,” City Director of Engineering Jim Hagerman said, describing the rare convergence of circumstances that would close a local road for a private construction project and privately funded road upgrades. “We appreciate everyone’s patience with this closure and the alternate routes. 

“Once road construction is complete, everyone who lives and drives in the area will benefit from the added safety features and reduced flooding on Hollywood Road.”

In August 2018, Elmington requested a zoning change to the property from C-4 (Highway Commercial) to RP-2 (Planned Residential); that change was approved unanimously by Knoxville-Knox County Planning (formerly Metropolitan Planning Commission) and City Council. The City Community Development Department supported the project with $555,000 from its Affordable Rental Development Fund.

John Shepard, Elmington’s Vice President of Multifamily Acquisitions, met with area residents on two occasions to discuss their concerns.

Project plans were adjusted to include:

• New sidewalks on Hollywood; 
• Substantial stormwater retention measures to address long-term flooding in the area; 
• Ridgetop and hillside protection; 
• Improved sight lines of oncoming traffic and driveways; and 
• Preservation and restoration of the neighborhood’s historic pond, which is located on the site. 

During heavy rains, Hollywood Road frequently floods at its lowest point near the pond and requires temporary closures. The reconstruction project will raise a 300-foot-long section of Hollywood by approximately 7 feet and prevent most road flooding. In addition, raising this section of road improves sight distance and visibility. 

In July, the City Engineering Department requested a City Council resolution authorizing the Mayor to execute an agreement with Elmington Capital Group to construct a retaining wall and small portion of fencing in the Hollywood Road public right-of-way at no direct cost to the City. The wall and fencing will be located on the west side of Hollywood Road adjacent to the pond at Pond Gap.

According to a traffic study conducted by Knoxville-Knox County Planning in 2016, an average of 8,648 cars per day travel Hollywood south of I-40. 

The Flats at Pond Gap’s 102 rental units will help address the city’s need for affordable housing as well as the housing needs of the neighborhood, said Becky Wade, Director of Community Development. 

In 2011, the neighborhood lost 780 units of affordable housing for families with the demolition of the University of Tennessee student apartments on Sutherland Avenue. Additionally, the former Prestwick Ridge Apartments converted to market-rate housing, further decreasing the supply of affordable units in the area by 136 apartments. 

“Hollywood Road is ideal for affordable housing because it’s within walking distance of schools, public transit, restaurants, laundromats and retail shops,” Wade said. “The site is also in close proximity to single-family housing as well as other multi-family market-rate rental housing.” 

A groundbreaking ceremony for The Flats at Pond Gap was held Sept. 13, 2019, with attendees including Mayor Madeline Rogero, Tennessee State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, John Shepard of Elmington Capital Group, and representatives of Knoxville’s Community Development Corp., the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Tennessee Housing and Development Agency. 

To date, the City has contributed funds from its Affordable Rental Development Fund to two additional projects developed by Elmington Capital Group: $360,000 to Southside Flats on Chapman Highway and $1.3 million to Young High Flats.