It is amazing how quickly things continue to change downtown. In this post I’ll mention some changes that have happened and others that are underway. These have been mentioned in other places (particularly Josh Flory’s excellent Property Scope), for the most part, so there is no huge breaking news to be found here, but it is interesting to see all the changes laid out together. It’s easy to move along thinking not much is happening until you see all the changes together. I’ve seen nothing to indicate it will slow down. If anything, the pace seems to be quickening.
Aveda Institute, Gay Street, Knoxville
There is one opening that I don’t think I’ve officially mentioned and that is the Aveda Institute which appears open for educating the future stylists of Knoxville. I’ll admit that I don’t think the S and W looks as bad as I anticipated in its new incarnation. I’m not necessarily excited to see the new business, but compared to an empty storefront, it’s beautiful.
31 Bistro, Market Square, Knoxville
We also had a conversion overnight on Market Square, much in the same manner as Black Market suddenly became Crass Couture last month. This month’s conversion doesn’t involve a change in ownership as much as a change in format. Longtime favorite La Costa became 31 Bistro. Ownership changed last year and the new owner is simultaneously putting her personal stamp on the business and shifting it away from the Latin theme that seems to be somewhat overdone on the western side of Market Square and promises to become even more saturated when Lime Fresh opens in the Arnstein Building next spring. The new restaurant will focus on fresh, locally grown food, while retaining some of the favorites from their previous incarnation.
We also have one re-opening this month. Almost like a zombie that just won’t die, Jay’s Megamart is open once more in the Kress Building on Gay Street. It’s an unlikely business to survive as downtown evolves, but I’m assuming when the building didn’t sell, the owner let them re-open. How long that will be the case remains to be seen, but in the interim you can find items there you won’t find anywhere else downtown, such as the scissors an out-of-town guest of ours bought there recently. Of course, that old staple of Jay’s, those fine wigs, are on sale!
The Market at Union and Gay, Knoxville
One unfortunate change is that the Market at Union and Gay has stopped selling meat. They had stocked excellent chicken, bison and grass-fed beef along with a small portion of seafood and lamb. It was the best meat market downtown in a long, long time. Unfortunately, the owner of that portion of the store (who is separate from the owner of the rest of the Market) decided sales weren’t strong enough and he pulled out. Assurances are being given that meat will return, soon, though probably not in the quantities it was previously available. This is very disappointing in my household as we had taken to buying all our meat there, daily as needed. We’ve shifted that portion of business to the new location of the Three Rivers Market for the time being, although that requires climbing in a car.
The former Market Square Kitchen: New Tenant Coming Soon!
There are other changes afoot which will become more apparent in the near future. A tenant has been located for the previous Market Square Kitchen, though the identity of the tenant isn’t being released, yet. The requirements set out initially, which I assume still stand, included a restaurant that would serve three meals a day, so that’s something to look forward to. It also must mean renovation work on that corner of the square and along the side on Union Avenue since the exterior of the location is in poor condition.
Likely bringing more construction in a never-ending-cycle of construction to Union Avenue is the purchase of the strip of office/retail space on the ground-floor of the residences at Market Square. Aside from a print shop these spaces have languished and the new owners, who include David Dewhirst, feel that alterations and improvements including clear windows will be more likely to attract occupants. If this turns out to be true, a retail connection will be made from Market Square to the Daylight Building, which should benefit merchants and downtown citizens alike.
Retail possibilities in the Residences at Market Square, Union Avenue, Knoxville
Finally, the White Lily Building has been purchased in the Old City just the other side of the tracks toward Magnolia. The plan is for residences to take most of the space. This could prove to be a huge development in several ways. It stretches the active portion of the Old City to the north, provides connections to the Magnolia corridor and also to Regas Square which may then become more attractive to further development. Anything that extends the footprint of the center city is an exciting thing. A tour of this historic building will be offered to Knox Heritage members next week. Join today and take the tour next week!