Jackson Avenue Business and More

I recently ambled around Jackson Avenue and became quite impressed with what’s happening there. I remember a year or so ago when the talk turned to which street downtown would become a primary east/west corridor. Jackson Avenue was mentioned and I admit I knew very little about it, other than the area around the intersection with Central in the Old City. I knew it primarily as the road where the large warehouse had burned.

After that I attended open house Southeastern Glass. I thought some of the condos were pretty cool and they include secure parking, which is a plus. The prices were also reasonable, but they rest at the intersection of Jackson and Broadway, certainly on the outer edges of much of the redevelopment downtown. I wondered if people would buy these small apartments which are as close to the Mission District as they are to Market Square. Josh Flory in his Property Scope blog recently noted several developments in that building. First, Morris Creative Group is moving from the L and N building, where they are being displaced by the incoming academy, to a new permanent home on the bottom floor of the building, occupying roughly half of the available commercial space. Additionally, in the same article, Josh notes that three of the fifteen residential units have sold in the building and three more are under contract. That is slow progress for the building, but it is progress in a difficult time for home sales.

View of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church from Jackson Avenue, Knoxville

Also recently reported residential news regarding the larger downtown area is the fact that based on the 2010 census, the central sector, which is basically downtown Knoxville, gained 2,477 residential units. I contacted Josh Flory and asked if there was a new official estimate of the downtown population, which has been quoted at about 2,000 for a long time. It appears that takes some sorting that had not been done when we had the conversation.

Burned portion of the McClung Warehouse, eastern end the remaining building

Walking east on Jackson from the Southeastern Glass Building, one thing that catches the eye is the deteriorating McClung Warehouse which was recently named to Knox Heritage’s Fragile Fifteen and is the site of one of the largest fires in recent Knoxville history. Often rumored to be on the verge of condemnation or sale and re-development, it continues to languish. It joins the Cal Johnson Building at 301 State Street as one of the two downtown buildings highlighted on this year’s list.

West Jackson Workshops

Further east on the southern side of the road at 514 is the West Jackson Workshops, home of Sanders-Pace Architecture. What I didn’t realize is that several other businesses now share the space and that building combined with the Morris Creative Group just down the street makes for a pretty strong graphic-design, architectural corridor. The other businesses which add to this creative stew include Burning Fork Studio (ceramics classes, hand-thrown pottery and art), Mockingbird Events (event planners who brought you Bacon Fest) and Nathanna (Graphic Design) which moved into the building late last year.

Standard Wilson Glass, Jackson Avenue, Knoxville

At 416 West Jackson, Standard Wilson Glass can apparently meet virtually all of your glass needs. I’ll admit I’ve always looked past them and they appear to have been in that location for a long time. If you need glass for your home or car, you have a downtown option.

Former Medical Clinic, Jackson Avenue, Knoxville

Former Volunteer Ministries, corner of Gay and Jackson, Knoxville, May 2011

I’ll stop with two buildings – one very small – and one very large. The larger building sits at the corner of Gay and Jackson and is the former home of Volunteer Ministries. Both are under development by David Dewhirst, though the corner building is owned by Jeffrey Nash.

Interior of the former Volunteer Ministries Building, Knoxville, May 2011

Interior view, Corner of Gay and Jackson, Knoxville, May 2011

The larger building will ultimately provide first floor commercial space that wraps around from the 100 Block onto Jackson Avenue and plans call for residential units on the upper floors. CBID provided a grant for the facade work. Looking at those interior shots above, I continue to be amazed at people who see something like that and think, “This could be a great space. I could make some money if I buy this property.” If it was up to me, I’d keep my money in my piggy bank and nothing would ever get done around here. I’m thankful for those guys.

Helio working hard on Jackson Avenue, Knoxville, May 2011

My favorite part of this walk, however, was personal. I ran into Helio, who my long-term readers will remember from his bat encounter at the Daylight Building. It was nice re-connecting to him and, as always Mr. Dewhirst, he was working hard and certainly deserves a raise. Tomorrow we’ll move on down the street in the direction of the Old City and beyond.