A New Pedestrian Bridge, A New Location for the Coliseum Proposed and More

Bridgewalk Beneath the Gay Street Bridge

Today we take another deep-dive into downtown design issues. David Denton joins us, once again, to look at some of the most confounding conundrums we face: Access to the river from atop our steep bluff, connectivity to the south waterfront, placement of a new coliseum, restoring the fabric of the city to the east and more. Editorially, I will say that the idea about the coliseum is an exciting one to me. What do you think? Here’s David:

The connection from downtown to the new developments on the south side of the river is currently by way of a narrow walkway on the Gay Street and Henley bridges, both of which are unappealing. The riverfront improvements have not brought the possibilities to full fruition.

One solution might be Knoxville’s version of New York’s Highline. It would be called Bridgewalk and would be a suspended pedestrian walkway below the Gay Street Bridge roadway, which would weave through the bridge structure. This would provide a sheltered walk, which would be visually exciting, and could connect to the riverfront development on the north side with an elevator and stairs landing adjacent to Calhoun’s restaurant. This would connect, in a more successful way, the riverfront with downtown, and the new developments on the south side. With dramatic lighting displays, this Bridgewalk could be a significant draw for visitors to the riverfront.

On the north side, the Bridgewalk would connect to the visitor center of Blount Mansion, and on the south side, would connect with the river walk currently being developed. Perhaps Regal Entertainment, whose new offices would be at the south end of the Bridgewalk, could take the lead in promoting such a project. It would make important pedestrian connections, and provide a unique attraction that would allow Knoxville to tap into the 10 million annual visitors to the nearby Smoky Mountain Park.

Blount Mansion could benefit from adjacency to the Bridgewalk project. Perhaps it would also be made more significant by promoting the mansion along with the James White Fort, as the birthplace of Knoxville. The bridge between the two could be enlivened with street banners, which would give information about both.

Placement of a new coliseum over the James White Parkway

Under consideration by the City is the possibility of razing the existing coliseum while retaining the auditorium. Recent studies have suggested a new arena located to the east of the existing auditorium/coliseum site. Another alternative to consider is to build the new arena and/or stadium over the tangle of roadways between downtown and the existing auditorium/coliseum. It would be built on a platform over the existing roadways. The land could be made available to a developer for such a project, which is within walking distance of four public parking garages, as well as three private garages, which are generally empty after business hours. A major advantage to this location is the adjacency of the bus Transit Center.

The additional cost to bridge over the existing roadways could be more than covered by not having the cost of acquiring land or building parking garages. By placing it in this location with gardens and retail around the base, it could reconnect downtown to the eastside. This would be tremendously beneficial to the James White Fort, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Marriott hotel. The Marriott might possibly be renovated to become an in-town resort hotel with a sports and fitness theme.

James White Parkway, Barrier to East Development, Knoxville, October 2014

The property to the east of the auditorium/coliseum, and including the existing Police Department site, could be developed with a multi-use commercial/residential development that in essence would put back a neighborhood where once originally existed. It would also be an opportunity to connect the new recent apartment developments, which are currently isolated from each other and the downtown. If the auditorium theater is saved perhaps the City could give it to Clarence Brown Theater relieving the City of managing a theater and the maintenance costs involved.

Downtown, as successful as it is becoming, still lacks retail for both visitors and residents. The intersection of Union Ave. and Gay St. is the very heart of the visitors zone. Unfortunately the northwest corner, the Miller’s building, is occupied by a bank, which is not dependent on foot traffic, and which has dark, tinted windows that do not encourage walkability. The southwest corner, the Conley building, is vacant on the ground floor. Perhaps one of these two locations could be developed with a significant retail project that would  improve the connection from Market Square to Gay Street. One possibility would be a Museum Collection in which regional museums would have branches of their gift shops located here with multi-media previews of the museums.

The Downtown Knoxville Ten Day Planner (2/19/2017 – 2/28/2017)

Zara Saponja and Sasha Reed of Lady Parts, Knoxville, February 2014

If you want to be certain your event is included on this calendar, I’ll need your event two weeks in advance. The absolute best way to make sure I include your event is to make a FB event and invite me – two weeks in advance. My FB “events” are the one place I’ll go to every time – if you invite me before I write the post.

If you see an event I’ve missed and you’d like to plug, please comment below. I am no longer able to add to the list events about which I was not informed in advance – it’s just gotten too big, and that’s a good thing. Staying true to the scope of the blog, I’ll only list downtown or near-downtown events. Any number of venues outside of downtown have some great events, but I have to draw a line somewhere. If you want to add those in a comment, that’s fine. Please “Friend” me (Alan Sims) on Facebook and invite me to your events. Look over to the right of this post and not only “friend” me, but “like” Inside of Knoxville. Subscribe (also to the right) to make sure you catch all the posts.

Want to get the word out more directly and get more eyes on your event or business? Consider placing a front page ad! For $350 (or $500 for an ad twice as large) you get a full month exposure to around 40,000 different people (and growing). Contact me for details @ KnoxvilleUrbanGuy@gmail.com.

Sunday, February 19

  • Knoxcentric: Powered by Inside of Knoxville, Knoxville Urban Guy Inviews Jimmy Buckner and Announces Throw Deep for Hunger, WUTK (90.3), 10:00 AM
  • Jazz Brunch, Five Bar, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Jazz Brunch with Shifflett’s Jazz Benedict, Bistro at the Bijou, Noon – 2:00 PM
  • Jazz Brunch, Downtown Grill and Brewery, 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • Chicago,” Broadway at the Tennessee Series, Tennessee Theatre, 1:30 PM, $38 – $98
  • Outside Mullingar,” Clarence Brown Theatre, 2:00 PM, $15 – $32
  • Small Breed Rescue of East Tennessee Fundraising/Adoption Event, Crafty Bastard, 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM
  • Clybourne Park,” Theatre Knoxville Downtown, 3:00 PM, $15
  • Sunday Sushi Post Valentines Night at Nama, Fundraiser for Friends of Literacy, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Chicago,” Broadway at the Tennessee Series, Tennessee Theatre, 7:00 PM, $38 – $98, SOLD OUT
  • Barefoot Sanctuary, Barley’s, 8:00 PM
  • Comedy Show featuring Louis Katz, Molly Ruben-Long, Todd Lewis and Liz Brooks, Pilot Light, 8:00 PM, $6
  • Blackwater Mojo, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM

Monday, February 20

Tuesday, February 21

  • Nuno Felting Adult Workshop, Knoxville Museum of Art, 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, (Two Consecutive Days)
  • February Green Drinks, Includes Tour of Knox Whiskey Works, Balter, 5:00 PM, $10
  • Campaign Kick-Off!, Lauren Rider for City Council, The Hive, 5:30 PM
  • Wild Kratts, Tennessee Theatre, 6:30 PM, $25 – $100, SOLD OUT
  • An Evening with Eva Schloss, Step-Sister of Ann Franke, “A Story of Triumph,” Civic Auditorium, 7:00 PM, $35 – $125
  • Singer/Songwriter Open Mic, Preservation Pub, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
  • Old Time Jam with Sarah Pirkle, Boyd’s Jig and Reel, 7:15 PM
  • Lady Parts- Basic Care, DreamBikes, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM, Free
  • Einstein Simplified Comedy Improv Show, Scruffy City Hall, 8:15 PM
  • Sally and George, Barley’s, 10:00 PM
  • Blue-Eyed Bettys, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM

Barbarosa, Go Contemporary Dance Works, Bijou Theatre, Knoxville, February 2017

Wednesday, February 22

  • Friends of Literacy Night with Luke Pfleger, Oliver Royale, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Taste & Toast” to support Knox Heritage, Sweet P’s, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Make Burrata Cheese, The Central Collective, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM, $37 (Must Be Purchased in Advance – BYOB)
  • Tennessee Shines presents Matt Kinman and the Tennessee Stifflegs, Boyd’s Jig and Reel, 7:00 PM, $10
  • Evan Burnett Trio (jazz), Bistro at the Bijou, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Comedy Night at Scruffy, Scruffy City Hall, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
  • Jamestown Revival, Bijou Theatre, 7:30 PM, $20
  • The Busy Body,” Clarence Brown Theatre, 7:30 PM, $15 – $22
  • Tinnarose/Mare Vita, Pilot Light, 9:00 PM, $5
  • Eli August and the Abandoned Buildings, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM
  • Scruffy Science Cinepub – 6000, Scruffy City Hall, 10:00 PM

Thursday, February 23

  • 6 O’Clock Swerve with Wayne Bledsoe presents Brandon Fulson, Barley’s, 6:00 PM, $5
  • Townhall: ACA – Repeal, Replace or Repair?, Whittle Springs Middle School, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Tasting Class: Loire Valley, Old City Wine Bar, 6:30 – 8:30, $22
  • The Busy Body,” Clarence Brown Theatre, 7:30 PM, $15 – $22
  • Balboa Swing Night, Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
  • Margo Price, Bijou Theatre, 8:00 PM, $18
  • Clybourne Park,” Theatre Knoxville Downtown, 8:00 PM, $15
  • Electric Pheasant Poetry Slam, Scruffy City Hall, 8:00 PM
  • Allen Thompson Band, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM
  • Fireside Collective, Barley’s, 10:00 PM

Friday, February 24

Saturday, February 25

Eli Fox, Modern Studio, Knoxville, February 2012

Sunday, February 26

  • Knoxcentric: Powered by Inside of Knoxville, WUTK (90.3), 10:00 AM
  • Jazz Brunch, Five Bar, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Jazz Brunch with Shifflett’s Jazz Benedict, Bistro at the Bijou, Noon – 2:00 PM
  • Jazz Brunch, Downtown Grill and Brewery, 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • February 4th Sunday for Someone – The Love Kitchen, Downtown Food Tour, $30 of each ticket goes to the Love Kitchen, 2:00 PM, $59
  • Public Cinema presents, “Fire at Sea,” Knoxville Museum of Art, 2:00 PM, Free
  • Sundress Reading Series, Bar Marley, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • 48th Jubilee Festival, Old Harp Singing, Laurel Theater, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Free
  • Clybourne Park,” Theatre Knoxville Downtown, 3:00 PM, $15
  • Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr.,” Children’s Theatre, 3:00 PM, $12
  • KnOscars 2017 Party and it’s Free!, Scruffy City Hall, 5:00 PM – Midnight, Free
  • Vertigo: An Evening with Dr. Andy Harnsberger, interactive concert featuring renowned marimba clinician, Modern Studio, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM, $10 Suggested Donation
  • Hollywood’s Night Out, Featuring a Taste of the Town and the Oscars on the Big Screen, 7:00 PM, $35
  • Ben Folds, Bijou Theatre, 7:30 PM, $40, SOLD OUT
  • The Brockefellers, Barley’s, 10:00 PM
  • Caps/Louie Louie/Giving Up/Filthy Blonde, Pilot Light, 9:00 PM, $5
  • Chapter Soul, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM

Monday, February 27

  • CBID Meeting, 17 Market Square, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  • Garden Brother’s Circus, Civic Coliseum, 4:30 PM, $11 – $39
  • Garden Brother’s Circus, Civic Coliseum, 7:30 PM, $11 – $39
  • Sweet Leaf, Preservation Pub, 10:00 PM
  • The Blueprint, Barley’s, 10:00 PM

Tuesday, February 28

  • Mardi Gras, Standing Rock, Kooks, and Nevertheless She Persisted, Architectural Antics, Music/Potluck/BYOB, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • City Council Meeting, Main Assembly Room, City County Bldg, 6:00 PM
  • Singer/Songwriter Open Mic, Preservation Pub, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
  • Old Time Jam with Sarah Pirkle, Boyd’s Jig and Reel, 7:15 PM
  • Shen Yun, Tennessee Theatre, 7:30 PM, $73 – $103
  • Wreckless Eric with Tim Lee, Pilot Light, 8:00 PM, $7
  • Einstein Simplified Comedy Improv Show, Scruffy City Hall, 8:15 PM
  • The Necks, Bijou Theatre, 8:00 PM, $22
  • Charlie Ballantine, Barley’s, 10:00 PM

Knoxville’s Scarecrow Foundation Set to Go National with Throw Deep for Hunger

  It was a year-and-a-half ago that I first introduced readers to the Scarecrow Foundation. Headed by Jimmy Buckner, the organization has had as its purpose from the beginning to "Help End Hunger in America." Unconventional in several … [Continue reading]

A Downtown Building Finds a New Purpose; A Downtown Institution Plans Move

Unless you've had a car repaired there - and many people have over the years - you'd not likely be familiar with the building at 213 E. Fifth Avenue. Should you have reason to drive east on Fifth Avenue past the old Knoxville High School, future home … [Continue reading]

The Missing Link: How to Connect the Parts of Downtown

Ed.: As has been the case in the past, David Denton joins us today with an exploration of a relatively simple way to connect the Arts District and Old City to the Gay Street/Market Square Area. Short of what we really need to do, restore the 200 … [Continue reading]