Open for Business in the Daylight Building! (plus a tease for more to come)

Many of us have waited, sometimes patiently, sometimes not so much, for the Daylight Building to finally assume a semblance of the vision dictated by David Dewhurst. I’ve been walking past it for a year, crossing to the other side to avoid portable toilets, construction vehicles and varying types of electrical, appliance, plumbing and other debris. I know the people who live in Pembroke (across the street) have gotten tired of looking at the mess. On the other hand, I think everyone understood when this started that the end result would be an (hopefully) attractive building and, most importantly, a building with some life, and that has to be worth some pain in the interim.

John Black in front of his new studio, Union Avenue, Knoxville, September 2010

At the beginning of last month the promise began to come to fruition, with the first residents moving into rented apartments. Interestingly, while I’ve heard that they are pretty expensive as rentals go, they seem to be filled with UT students. Another surprising note is how many of them have a pet – or more. The tiny patches of dog-duty grass in the area are struggling. I couldn’t help thinking as their parents moved them in that even that act took no small amount of faith: the building was still a construction zone across the front, resembling an aging warehouse more than an integrated portion of a vibrant downtown.

The faith seems to be paying off: John Black Photography will slowly begin to ramp up their business on the southeast corner of the building this week. John is originally from Scotland, but grew up in Ireland and has lived in the US for many years, giving him what has to be one of the most interesting accents in the metro area. He has a degree in photography and seeks to apply an artist’s eye to the most simple portrait. Beginning with a commercial shoot this week and ramping up from there, the business will be the first long-awaited sign of commercial life for the Daylight Building.



John Black Photography, Union and Walnut, Knoxville, Tennessee, September 2010

 It will not be the only sign of life for long . . . John tells me that an invitation and engraving shop will also soon join the line-up and – Big News – an organic food shop will be opening, with the possibility of a few tables and a small cafe! It may not be a full-service grocery store, but it’s another piece of the puzzle. I didn’t get a precise time-table, but I got the idea that everything was set for opening when the spaces are ready. From what little I know about construction (approximately nothing), it looks like the spaces could be ready in the next few weeks. An attempt was made to bring in a wedding shop, but that appears to have faltered. We could have had one-stop shopping for your big day!

John hoped to have an open house for First Friday in October, but said he will not likely be ready for the crowds in time, so he’s anticipating hosting people First Friday in November. Magpies, for whom he’s photographed their First Friday crowds, will probably join him that night as a co-host. Photographs and cupcakes sound like a recipe for a great night! Watch for announcements and join us for this celebration of a building once on a fast track to a future as a stunning parking lot converted instead to homes and livelihoods for a fresh group of downtown residents.

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