Magnolia Avenue Corridor Project Unveiled

Magnolia Ave


Last week the city unveiled its latest plan for the Magnolia Avenue corridor improvements. You’ll find the full plan here in great detail and I’ll leave it to those of you interested in that level of detail to access it there. The renderings you see in this article came from that source.

The scope of the project is to spend between $6 and $8 million in two phases stretching over the next two years –  with each contingent on funding. The first phase, “pending approval of the design and project budget, . . . could begin in early 2017.” The italics are mine, intended to emphasize that dirt will not start turning any time soon and the city seems to be presenting the long-discussed plans in very tentative language.

Street Views


Street Illustrations


If approved, the first phase of the project would focus on a three block area of Magnolia stretching from Jessamine Street to Myrtle Street. The second phase, beginning – in a best case scenario – two years from now, would extend the project another three blocks from Myrtle to North Bertrand Street.

As to what is planned, the press release states, “Proposed improvements include adding 14-foot-tall brick gateway pillars; raised medians to replace the center left-turn lane; bike lanes; and bus pull-offs. Streetscape amenities would include attractive new black street light poles and crossbars with LED lights, wider sidewalks, benches and bike racks. Left-turn lanes will be provided at major intersections, and crosswalks would be colored and patterned to enhance both aesthetics and pedestrian safety. Utility lines would be relocated, and new trees would anchor the landscaping design.”

Magnolia Avenue Warehouse District


Intersection Rendering


Any improvements would be welcome along the corridor which is currently home to numerous abandoned buildings and empty parking lots – in addition to some long-term businesses and nascent development. The unfortunate construction of Hall of Fame Drive which created a break between sections of Magnolia made natural development out that corridor more difficult since the current boom in development on Magnolia near Gay Street and Broadway is severed from its former connection to the east.

Hopeful signs in the area include the location of the Pellissippi State campus, the private investment in the Parkridge area and the advent of a circuitous development connection to downtown development, between Jackson and Magnolia via Humes and Georgia Avenue. It’s near the Georgia/Magnolia intersection that Last Days of Autumn will soon open at 808 E. Magnolia. Should Standard Knitting Mills cease its languishing and see promised development, that would add tremendous energy to the area, as well, though nothing I’ve seen indicates such movment.

The current designs are not firm and if you are so inclined, you might influence their final form. Comments will be taken through February 4 and should be directed to project manager Bryan Berry at


  1. Susan Napier-Sewell says:

    I agree with why keep pushing this priority to the back burner? East Knoxville is part and parcel of our town, and its citizens deserve the opportunities that this development would bring. We’ve just had “Stop the Violence” forum at Fulton H.S. and heard from those in East Knoxville who have made good, and from those who want to do better. We also heard from people who need a break. WBIR, WVLT, WATE, KPD, Hallerin Hilton Hill and more joined with the community to explore conditions, solutions and frustrations, and we heard some inspiring testimonies. Environment has a huge effect on behavior and the psyche. Perhaps if we put a little faith in that and put some money behind it, we can accomplish what is long overdue for East Knoxville.

  2. This is wonderful news. I cherish the diversity in our city and would love to see this neighborhood made a safer space (not more expensive, however) in which we can live and play.

  3. This would be an interesting development, but I can’t help but wonder if other areas would prove to be more sensible choices. This area has struggled to do much of anything, regardless of frequently being touted as one being key. As long as the Mill sits in it’s current condition, and as you mentioned there’s little reason to think otherwise, I think it’ll be a tough sell.

    • The city may push on with it, but that’s no guarantee it’s going to prove to be a successful endeavor.

      • Maybe not, but there are old houses being restored out in that direction. And a lot more interesting inexpensive houses (craftsman bungalows etc) are available for renovation. A prescription for revitalization if you ask me. Magnolia itself seems questionable because of its width and relatively high speeds but sprucing it up might enable the narrower, calmer side streets to flourish.

        • Very true, a friend of mine used to live in the multicolored home at the corner of Washington and Monroe, many of these homes are incredible, and warrant restoration. At the same time he was robbed at gunpoint just down the street at the corner of Winona while using the pay phone (boy that dates things). My wife had frequent unwelcome guests invite themselves into the office lobby she worked in on Winona. They had a office shotgun “just in case”. When my brother in law was attending Knoxville Catholic High School, safety was often mentioned as a concern. Granted this all occurred many years ago, late 80/early 90’s, but has the situation improved? I don’t know, and perhaps it’s has and this is simply my ignorance showing.

          It’s a shame the K-Jays aren’t still playing here in a modern “Smokies” style stadium, but that’s water long under the bridge. The area has a lot of potential, but just in the few comments here, safety is clearly still a concern.


          • There have also been multiple shootings on the Strip in recent years. Should we cancel the redevelopment there because of that?

    • Folks in East Knoxville would like equitable distribution of city and county resources. We have no desire to be like West Knoxville, but fair resource distribution wout be nice. Looking for hope and equity. That 80% of the greenways are in West Knoxville suggests why East Knoxville may look like a forgotten stepchild.

  4. Great news! I hope they get started on this project sooner than later. And hopefully redevelopment will make this a safer street.

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