Construction Updates!

Interior construction of The Tree and the Vine, Union Avenue, Knoxville

There are a number of widely anticipated renovation and rehabilitation projects going on downtown and some of the changes have been quite remarkable the last few days. In fact, things are moving so quickly I had to return to the square for more pictures before I could write this post because overnight the view of one of the sites changed dramatically.

New Shops at Union under construction, Knoxville, March 2012

I recently profiled The Tree and Vine and wrote about their pending arrival, hopefully by June, in the New Union Shops. Work has exploded on the site with the dark windows removed from the facades across the front of the building and concrete covering most of the interior floors, which had been dirt and rock since the structure was built. Studs have also gone up separating the various storefronts. At this point there is nothing official to report regarding additional tenants, though conversations are continuing.

Scaffolding outside the pending site for Tupelo Honey, Knoxville, March 2012

View of the Southwest corner of Market Square, March 2012

Just down the street in the Oliver (Kerns Building), construction has begun in earnest on what will become a restaurant and will house Tupelo Honey. The same time table is in place as for the Tree and the Vine, so the work has taken an urgency. The rotten window seats have been replaced with brick and wonderfully matching brick columns have been added.

Brick being laid for Tupelo Honey

Hard to recognize with the awning gone – 1 Market Square, March 2012

After the initial pictures were taken, I returned the next day to find that the awning had been removed, which totally changes the look of the place. There has been some discussion of an enclosed area in the front, which has since been questioned and I think they’ve backed away from the idea.

Across the street, not much seems to be happening, but yesterday, Josh Flory reported what has widely been rumored: Urban Outfitters is back in the conversation. They’ve gone so far as to submit a proposal to the Downtown Design Review Board, so that sounds more than promising. While it isn’t a store in which I would likely make many purchases, I’ve come to understand what it adds to our mix and I think it is pretty exciting. It was unclear from the article whether they would be in the first floor only or also on the second floor.

409 Gay Street under construction

Closer view of 409 Gay Street

Finally, down the street and around the corner, an interesting store front is taking shape at 409 S. Gay. It’s right next door to Downtown Wine and Spirits with which it shares an owner. I’ve been asking questions about the storefront for the last two years and I’ve gotten answers all over the map, from a bakery to a cheese shop to a book store (before the advent of Union Avenue Books). I was once told it might be a cheese and  book store. At this time, I’m not getting a clear indication of what might be destined for the spot, but I’m being told it will be soon and it will be cool. I’ll let you know when they let me know!

“Now Hiring” sign for Skye Bar

Also noted, is a “hiring” sign in the window just a few doors down in what will become Skye Bar. Those types of signs haven’t been very common in quite a while and it is nice to see some springing up.

So, there is quite the buzz around the heart of the city. Spring seems to be delivering a steady stream of exciting new business news. Let me know if you have a story that is ready for the telling. We’re all waiting.