Mayor Kincannon Proposing $750,000 for Commercial Facade Program

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Mayor Kincannon Proposing $750,000 for Commercial Facade Program

Posted: 10/27/2021
Over 16 years, the City’s Commercial Façade Improvement Program has been popular with mom-and-pop small businesses – and with owners who fall in love with and want to rehabilitate historic buildings. 

And now, Mayor Indya Kincannon is proposing $750,000 in new funding for the program, which helps bring back into reuse vacant buildings in targeted commercial areas.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the City rightfully shifted our funding priorities to help families in need,” Mayor Kincannon said. “In our last two budgets, we were unable to fund the Commercial Façade Improvement Program. Thankfully, because of a package of federal pandemic-relief assistance and other funding, we’ll soon be able to vigorously restart this successful program.”

The program has been an economic driver and a job creator. Partnering with property owners, the City’s commercial façade investments have supported neighborhood-level redevelopment throughout downtown and on Sevier, Magnolia and on North Central avenues.

A total of 174 building exteriors have gotten a fresh new look, and the $8.1 million in City funding has been more than matched by $18 million in owner investment.

Ken Hill said partnering with the City on a façade project was “instrumental” in bringing back to life a long-dormant 111-year-old building at 822 Sevier Ave.

“Every little bit helps, especially when you’re developing in an unknown situation with an old building, when you really don’t know what you’re going to get into until you get into it,” he said.

He and his wife Debbie bought the 8,000-square-foot South Knoxville building, which has been scarred with graffiti and boarded-up windows.

After an extensive top-to-bottom inside-and-out renovation, they now live upstairs there, enjoying the open floor plan and high ceilings, the original brick walls and lots of natural light. The rooftop patio is a favorite spot.

They manage two upstairs apartments as short-term rentals, and there are two new retail businesses – Sweetbriar Boutique and Loveliest Bridal – that front on Sevier Avenue.

The façade assistance, Ken said, “helped bring assurance we could complete the project.”

Debbie said she was grateful for the redevelopment help – as well as the City’s moral support.

“It gave us confidence going forward that the City believed in renovating and remodeling this building,” she said. “It was like the City became a part of our team.”

More than 1,200 jobs have been created at properties upgraded through the Commercial Façade Improvement Program, according to City Housing and Neighborhood Development Department records. 

These public-private partnerships on building makeovers have more than doubled the assessed value of the properties being revitalized, which generates local tax revenue for years to come. 

Prior to redevelopment, the properties participating in the Commercial Façade Improvement Program had been assessed at $22.1 million. After the investments, the majority of which was made by the private owners, the assessed value increased to $53.7 million.

The new $750,000 to fund more commercial façade projects like the Hills’ is part of a $35 million budget amendment to the City’s operating and capital budgets. City Council approved it on the first of two readings at its Oct. 19, 2021 meeting.

A detailed listing of the Mayor’s proposal – mostly using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds or money freed up by other federal assistance – can be found here: