What in the World is a Scrappalachian Metal Work?

Scrappalachian Metal Work, 141 West Anderson Avenue, Knoxville, July 2018

Gregory Tune’s business is, perhaps, an unlikely one. Located at 141 West Anderson (less than a block west of the heart of Happy Holler), you know something funky must be happening here when you see the bench out front made from the tailgate of a truck and other found metal parts. A mustached, pipe smoking road warrior of some mysterious progeny guards the door and a very large metal guitar hovers in the air. The place has the feel of a sorcerer’s playground. And that’s kind of what it is.

Gregory has settled very comfortably into the city that he says has been so welcoming. He feels he’s found his spot on the earth and he’s very happy about that. He got his first name from his grandmother’s maiden name. He values his family history and says one side was full of oil men and the other side was full of water men. His grandfather drilled, perhaps, a majority of the wells in Monteagle. “My daddy was a millwright and my mother was a florist, so I make metal flowers.”

Scrappalachian Metal Work, 141 West Anderson Avenue, Knoxville, July 2018

Scrappalachian Metal Work, 141 West Anderson Avenue, Knoxville, July 2018

He grew up in California because his grandparents had migrated to the bay area. He drifted a bit after high school. “A buddy said, ‘Let’s go fishing.’ I cleaned the fish because I was good with a knife.” He became a prep cook using those knife skills, prepping at one restaurant in the morning and another in the afternoon. It seemed that would be his direction, but he never made much money.

That may be why he was ripe for a change at age 27. “My brother was an iron worker on the Bay Bridge and at 27 I went to community college to study metal working.” Thirty units were required for graduation, but he wanted to take every class offered. He also made money through the program. When he got to 80 credits, “they told me to go get a job.”

He entered the work force at a time the economy was struggling. His first job paid $8 an hour. The routine was that welders would be hired for a job and then laid off when it was finished. Each time he started back, the pay increased. “I got up to $20 an hour and I was working 80 hours a week. He talked to an older guy who worked the same hours and told him that he never got to know his daughter. That struck Gregory who has a child of his own and didn’t want that to happen to them.

Gregory Tune, Scrappalachian Metl Work, 141 West Anderson Avenue, Knoxville, July 2018

Gregory Tune, Scrappalachian Metl Work, 141 West Anderson Avenue, Knoxville, July 2018

While he was born and grew up on the west coast, but felt a tug to move east. His in-laws had moved to Texas, so with not much in the way of plans, he and his wife drove east. He had a job lined up in the Nashville area, but his wife wasn’t excited about the size of the city. “The further I drove, the greener it got. When I got to the mountains, I knew this was it.” He’d researched and learned that Knoxville had a “24% lower cost of living than California,” and that gave them further reason to settle here.

[Continue reading]

The Proposed “T at Riverfront” Grows from Nineteen Stories to Twenty-Six

Original Proposal for The T at Riverfront on the Left, Most Recent Design on the Right, July 2018

Is the skyscraper back in vogue? If the current version of the proposed “T at Riverfront,” is constructed, it would be the second tallest building (by stories) in the city behind the First Tennessee Plaza. Its base, however, would be down the bluff from the main elevation of downtown and, so, it would not tower as high as might be expected.

I first reported on the proposed building last April when the group, which includes Gamble and Gamble architects out of Atlanta, Cogent Bay investors out of California, local DIA architects, Blaine Construction and Rick Blackburn as project manager, presented to the Downtown Design Review Board for a second time.

Original Proposal for The T at Riverfront on the Left, Most Recent Design on the Right, July 2018 (View from Hill Avenue)

Original Proposal for The T at Riverfront on the Left, Most Recent Design on the Right, July 2018

Subsequent to that meeting, the group purchased the property on the bluff between Hill Avenue and Front Avenue. They’ve also continued to refine and shift the proposed building design in response to expense and to suggestions from the review board. The result – and the current rendition of the building – is strikingly different. It’s important to note it could change further in the coming months.

The images provided mostly show the contrast from the previous design on the left, to the new design on the right. The most obvious shift is that the building grew by seven stories to an eye-popping twenty-six stories. That said, there are fewer apartments (267 versus 287 before). There are more beds, meaning there are more high-number (four) bedroom apartments.

Original Proposal for The T at Riverfront on the Left, Most Recent Design on the Right, July 2018

Original Proposal for The T at Riverfront on the Left, Most Recent Design on the Right, July 2018

Height is only one metric, however, of the changes in design. The entire parking garage has been moved out of the tower and will be an adjacent, separate structure. Parking spaces have been increased to 298. Amenities for residents, including a work-out facility and pool will be located on top of the parking garage. The front and back sides of the garage are slated to have vertical gardens of sort in order to soften the visual impact of massive sheer walls. The garage will be six stories tall and will be adjacent to the Henley Bridge (fifteen feet away).

With the mass of the building shifted to the east, some portion of the views from Hill Avenue will be retained, meaning the existing properties won’t entirely lose their connection to the river, though lower floors would likely have no view. For Hill Avenue, the impact also includes an expanded retail space (now 5,000 square feet) on the corner of Hill and Locust and the previous entrance and exit to the garage on Hill has been eliminated and all ingress and egress from the garage will be along Front Avenue, which will become one-way (west).

Proposed materials for The T at Riverfront, Knoxville, July 2018

View of Proposed Retail Space on Hill Avenue, The T at Riverfront, Knoxville, July 2018

Sidewalks will be rebuilt and expanded on all sides of the building, including along Locust. Also, the power lines along Locust will be buried to be consistent with the vast majority of downtown. Hill will still have above-ground power lines. The building will rise nineteen stories from Hill Avenue and above the brick base of the building will be steel, concrete and stucco. 4,000 square feet of retail will be retained on Front Street.

Some questions remain and Mike Gamble, of Gamble and Gamble Architects suggested they are aware of them and continuing to work on issues like providing parking to support the retail space, as well as providing easy pedestrian access. Faris Eid, of DIA, said the work with traffic engineers had taken a lesser emphasis while the building was re-designed, but they are prepared to re-engage them at this point. The chief question remaining there is how that many cars will exit via Front Street, which leads to Old Broadway in the Maplehurst neighborhood just on the other side of the bridge.

Most Recent Design for the T at Riverfront, July 2018

Most Recent Design for the T at Riverfront, July 2018

The response to the new design was largely positive. Concerns were expressed that perhaps the building could engage the public more – a rooftop restaurant was mentioned. Design critiques included not having the tall white striations on the garage and the lack of an identifiable “top” to the building, which just seems to stop in mid air.

In conclusion, Mr. Gamble suggested the group will be back in short order with additional changes and more information. This meeting was a workshop designed for give-and-take between the board and those involved in the project. A more formal request for approval of the project will come at a subsequent meeting.

South Knox Healing Arts Opens at New Location

Evelyn Barnette moved her South Knox Healing Arts into a space inside The Bees Knees Hairdressing Salon at 1133 Sevier Avenue across from Alliance Brewing Company. It's a continuation of her commitment to a lifelong interest in massage therapy and to … [Continue reading]

Matt Robb’s Biscuits & Brew Opens at 800 Market Street

Last April when I first wrote about Matt Robb's Biscuits and Brew, the plan called for it to open in May. This being July, you might imagine a few misadventures happened along the way. While it took a little longer to open his doors and start serving … [Continue reading]

A Gay Street Business Closes, So Does Part of the Street (and an Art Exhibition Opens Briefly)

It was just a year-and-a-half ago that I announced the opening of Potbelly Sandwiches at 522 South Gay Street. It was the second Knoxville franchise location operated by the same investment group and operated by local musician and businessman Mark … [Continue reading]