Business and Construction Update for Early July

Near Completed Awning at New Union Shops, Knoxville, June 2012

The dog days of summer certainly have settled on the city. With temperatures passing the century mark I’m tempted to stay inside until Autumn. Observing the city from the air-conditioned comforts of my home, it appears I’m not the only one who has pulled back a bit. The streets seem just  a little less traveled and those who brave the heat on foot seem to move at  a slow, determined pace wearing grim expressions.

JC Penney Building, Gay Street, Knoxville, June 2012

Despite the lethargy of downtown residents, construction workers, developers and business owners continue to plunge ahead with a number of projects. Probably the most exciting news circulating, as reported on Josh Flory’s Property Scope Blog, is that the JC Penney Building is currently undergoing a spruce-up with the idea that a sale and a tenant may be on the near horizon. The article quotes David Dewhirst as saying he has a specific client in mind which would have a huge impact on downtown. As always, we have to remember that some of these things work and some do not. Still, it’s encouraging to have a possibility. I was happy to read that the arches will, indeed, become windows. It could be very attractive.

Kimberly Clark (from the back), Knoxville, June 2012

Josh also reported that the Kimberly Clark Building has been sold to a local developer, Fred Langley, who purchased the building for about 3.5 million dollars, which is several million less than Kimberly Clark paid a few years back. It’s interesting that a company would want to move badly enough to lose that much money. Given that additional parking seems to be on the way, what is the rationale? Langley appears to be confident that he can attract additional businesses.

36 Market Square, Knoxville, 2012

On a smaller scale, there are several additional developments of note. 36 Market Square will soon have units available for rent. Descriptions and prices are posted in the window of the building. I think they are stunningly low given the location and the amenities I’m told will be included. I hope to have photographs of the interiors as they near completion. The bottom floor, as everyone knows, will be Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, which is slated to open in August, which is a shame, given the current heatwave. Incidentally, I overheard a young couple standing virtually in the shadow of the Market Square Garage saying how cool to live in the condos in 36 Market Square, but “where would you ever find a parking space?”

Construction at New Union Shops, Knoxville, May 2012
Action Shot – Construction at New Union Shops, Knoxville, May 2012
Dangling feet – Construction at New Union Shops, Knoxville, May 2012

While remarkable changes continue in the New Union Shops, it seems to drag. Originally the first of the shops were to open in June, none have made it, yet. The Tree and the Vine is taking shape pretty quickly and may wind up being first. I’m told Nothing Too Fancy is eyeing an August opening. Hopefully I’ll be able to give you a little preview of that very soon. The Casual Pint seems to have quite a way to go and, as far as I know, the other space is still open. The facade and the new awning look great and I’ll appreciate the coverage every time I walk past in the rain – or blazing heat.

Construction of Awning at New Union Shops, Knoxville, June 2012

My understanding from Cynthia Moxley’s Blue Streak Blog is that Tupelo Honey won’t open until September, which is considerably off what was originally hoped. I’m sure it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, the facade on that building is beautiful. Any of us who remember walking by when it was the Market Square Kitchen remember the rotting wood that lined the windows. That lining is now made of copper, the new brickwork looks great and the earth tone colors stretching around the corner and incorporating Shono’s really make that corner pop. I assume there will be an awning, soon.

New Kerns Building Facade, Knoxville, June 2012

Finally, a little transportation news: Rickshaws appear to be on their way to downtown. Read about the details here. Also on that front, I’ll note that Megabus really seems to be here to stay. I’d be worried if my first name was Greyhound. The fares for Megabus have gone up, but are still cheaper than gas for a car – and they drive the bus. They’ve shifted almost exclusively to double-deckers and I’ve really enjoyed my trips. My only two complaints: Slow-to-no Internet and freezing on-board temperatures. Still, instead of spending my Sunday morning holding a steering wheel, my Internet connection was good enough to allow me to write this post, so there you go!

Megabus to Knoxville, July 2012