Small Changes and Big Chances for Downtown Knoxville

New Stone Pathway across Market Square, Knoxville, April 2014

New Stone Pathway across Market Square, Knoxville, April 2014

Changes are often so subtle or gradual that we don’t notice them at first. Taken together they can make a real difference in the environment around us which, in this case, is a city. The path pictured above is the most recent, widely obvious change to downtown.

Put in place to deal with the difficulties of growing grass and protecting the Oak Trees on the square, I think the city did a nice job. I’ve heard people suggest that the path should have crossed the other way, as well, but it’s  a pretty small space and that would not have left much but rock. Personally, I would have liked to see an iron fountain in the middle with some wrought iron benches on either side, but I’m likely channeling a little too much Bienville Square from my childhood.

Bienville Square, Mobile, Alabama (photo from Wikipedia)

Bienville Square, Mobile, Alabama (photo from Wikipedia)

We’re also getting new recycling receptacles in parks around Knoxville and, I presume that includes Krutch Park and maybe Market Square, though I haven’t noticed. It’s a new push for more recycling and less trash. Other recycling news and another small change includes the fact that the city is moving the large recycling center from beside Central Street (directly behind Mast General and the Brew Pub) to Willow Street in the Old City. The Goodwill collection drop-off will move there, as well.

This is an early step toward the development of the Marble Alley apartments on the site. The city has also approved a $650,000 capital project for Marble Alley streetscape and State Street improvements. While the design remains controversial, a lot of money is about to pour into that site from different directions. Here’s hoping it all turns out to be a good thing for downtown. It certainly is the first time we’ve come this close to making a parking lot into a building in a long, long time.

Statue in Krutch Park, Knoxville, April 2014

Statue in Krutch Park, Knoxville, April 2014

Another, obvious change is that we’ve lost last year’s sculptures and seem to get more of the new replacements each day. My early feel is I’m liking this lot. I particularly like the one I’ve pictured above. I have to say, though, I thought the one of the human arch beside the southern-most pool in Krutch Park needed to be made permanent. It just seemed made for that space.

There are also small signs appearing around downtown – and I apologize for failing to photograph them. They are plastic and attached to street signs and show historical photographs of the view a pedestrian might have had from that spot a hundred years ago or so. It’s a cool idea and I’ll try to look into it more – unless one of you knows the source of the signs and wants to leave a comment. I know there was a website attached, but I failed you guys this time around.

McClung Site, Jackson Avenue, Knoxville, April 2014

McClung Site, Jackson Avenue, Knoxville, April 2014

Finally, the big opportunity: A public forum will be held at the Southern Depot this afternoon at 5:30. This will be an opportunity for public input regarding future use and development of “city-owned property between Gay Street and Broadway.” The focus is on the 500 block of Jackson Avenue at which location the city owns a large parking lot and the remains of the McClung Warehouses. Do you have an opinion? Be there and express it. This promises to be a more pleasant walk than the last public forum held in that spot. The night we discussed food trucks was raining, very windy and cold.

I’ll be interested to see if anyone brings up other properties that would be included in that broad statement. For example, we’ve recently talked about the parking lot at the corner of Summit Hill Drive and Gay Street. The city apparently owns it and it needs to have an awesome mixed-use building to replace one side of the 200 block and connect the 100 block to the rest of the city.

I hope to see you there. It should be interesting.


  1. That pathway is bad. At no point did we need a third area of traffic on the long axis of that “green space”. Anyone with a brain could see that the issue was people trying to cross perpendicular to the length. Heck, there are subtle physical barriers on either end that make approaching the long axis somewhat uncomfortable. And by somewhat uncomfortable, I mean in the way that no one wants to sit on the sofa still in plastic. It’s there, it looks like you could sit on it, but no one ever does.

    BTW: Reference the original proposal for the path. This execution meets the clinical definition of “half assed”.

  2. I think the plan for the stone path called for seating, so hopefully that is still to come. Seating in the shade will be a treat in the summer.

    I like this batch of sculptures too. The new “big tank vs little tank” one next to Krutch Park pond is great. The one at the northern end of the park is too. My brother calls that one “Santa’s sleigh on LSD”.

  3. Arthur Benjamin Carmichael III says

    So, the meeting about the former McClung Warehouse lot is where we all gather together to talk about all of the possibilities for this space. That way the City of Knoxville can say they did their due diligence before the pave it over for a nice surface parking lot

  4. Arthur Benjamin Carmichael III says

    I certainly hope to be proven wrong

  5. If your referring to the surface lot at the corner of Gay & Summit (NW Corner across from the CM Park), I believe that is still under a long-term lease to Terminus Properties for use by Sterchi residents.

    As for the lot adjacent to the McClung site at Jackson & Gay, I’d like to know why half of is roped off from use today.

  6. Just spent the earlier part of this week in Nashville got to say wow I’m overly impressed by the way that city embraces growth. I hate to sound negative but when you come back home you think wow we could use some serious help here. Makes downtown seem puny an old and stale. Sad thing is we could have what Nashville has but for some unknown reason it’s turned away. Even people that work within the city will admit that. Is it our mayor, or city officials, or the residents? I will always be in question.

    • It’s closed off for Rhythm n’ Blooms. We agreed not to close streets but instead to use surface parking areas – while still leaving enough spaces open to accommodate monthly parkers.

  7. Ev Banda says

    Stone path was a really bad idea and it will be a costly maintenance item or if not properly maintained it will become an eyesore and a hazard to elderly and disabled.

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