Well, maybe not in the sense that they are walking down Gay Street, but in other ways there has been quite a bit of movement among downtown buildings in recent weeks. Virtually all of it has been reported in Josh Flory’s Property Scope blog but, as I’ve done before, I felt it important to bring it all together in one spot on this blog so everyone can be up to speed on what’s happening.
I always appreciate it when I get a tip from readers and yesterday, Mr. T., longtime faithful reader, emailed me to say the new owners were busy removing the “Kimberly Clark” name from the side of the building at the corner of Locust and Summit Hill. Of course, this has been a long time coming. The company announced last year they were leaving downtown, eventually landing in west Knoxville.
Josh Flory recently reported that the building, now known as the “Langley Building” after its current owner Fred Langley, has now leased large portions of the building. Quoting Joe Petre of Conversion Properties, Josh notes, “YoungWilliams Child Support Services — which operates the child support program for Tennessee’s 6th Judicial District — has leased more than 12,000 square feet in the building.” He also notes that, ” the state Department of Economic and Community Development has signed a lease for approximately 3,000 square feet in the building.”
The building looks a bit naked without “Kimberly Clark” emblazoned along the roof line, but it’s hard to imagine “Langly Bulding” or “Young-Williams Child Support Services” replacing it. Maybe some sort of new lighting will be employed to give the block building some aesthetic interest. Or not.
The Medical Arts Building has also been back in the news to a small degree, recently. Michael Grace emailed to let me know that the city approved a ten year PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes), which is basically the final piece of financing that project was awaiting. The hope is to have residents moving into the Medical Arts Building by the end of the year. This is exciting and a relief after the CBID funding fell well short of their request and questions were raised as to whether the project would proceed. I hope to have more on that project in coming months.
One of our most conspicuous eye-sores has also changed hands. Known as the “KUB Building” to most of us because the building housed KUB for many years, the green-tiled building at the corner of Church and Gay recently sold to a group including Tim Hill and David Dewhirst. The story reported by Josh Flory noted that this is one of the few examples of fifties architecture downtown.
While I’ve certainly been guilty of calling the building ugly, I’m hopeful the rehab will make me a believer. Retail is a definite plan for the first floor, but the use for the remainder is still under consideration. The “building” is actually two buildings and I wonder if they will be separated once again. It seems to me they should be. Cost of the building was only 750,000, but the developers indicated the cost of renovation could be $7,000,000.
A building that has recently been offered for sale, but thus far failed to receive an offer, is the former Supreme Court Building on Henley Street. Asking price is right at two-and-a-half million and at least one developer, Buzz Goss, suggested that price makes the project marginal for making a profit. On the other hand, one of our most prominent skyscrapers has been sold recently. The twenty-four story tower at 900 S. Gay Street sold for approximately $30,000,000. The company selling the property was apparently in financial straits and had bought the building in 2005 for $41,000,000. The transaction involved a Texas company selling to a California company. Interesting, isn’t it?
Finally, I’ve heard from a couple of directions about the Rebori Building which sits at the corner of Summit Hill and Gay and until recent months housed Nouveau Classics, which has now moved down the street. The upper two floors are a residence, and friends who recently attended a party three given by new owners Gordon and Claire Manley, pointed out that the residential space is spectacular. Also in evidence is the building project on the back which will include a garage as well as a massive deck and additional living space, I believe.
The reason the building is back in the news this week is that CBI has announced the lease of the bottom floor. CBI is an office furnishing and design center. They follow office renovation projects from design through construction. I’m pretty sure that if you search for Pecha Kucha on this blog and look at the second most recent event, you’ll find there was a speaker from the local group. They also have offices sprinkled about the south, mostly in the Carolinas.
So, while none of these events have caused a stir on the street, as these buildings move from one set of hands to another or move into a new phase of their history, your city changes just a bit. As some of these projects come to fruition and new residents and workers land on our streets as a result, the changes will be much more tangible.