Nearly two years ago when Jeffrey Nash bought the property that formerly housed Master Battery and included an over-grown corner lot at Magnolia and Central, it seemed, even then like an odd choice. For those of us who have lived in Knoxville for many years, the words “high-end development” and “Magnolia Avenue” seemed unlikely partners for the same sentence. It may be why some people are developers and others of us are not: the ability to see what will be, rather than simply seeing the present.
As you can see from the photographs, the view in August of 2013 wasn’t a pretty one. Given that the property was purchased, however, most of us would expect the next step in development to be the demolition of the current building. But that’s not the way Jeffrey Nash, as well as other local developers like him work. They look at a dilapidated building and see potential for beauty. And that is what has emerged on this site.
By last October it was obvious even to the untrained eye that something really nice was happening on the spot. The facade on the front building was improved. The rear section of the building, anonymous and unremarkable before began to show its potential. As 2015 began, the structure emerged to the point that the finished product could be easily visualized.
Yesterday, Jeffrey and I sat down with project designer Juliana Terra to talk about what has happened on the site. The building that sits closest to Magnolia – which used to be Master Battery’s showroom, is nearing transfer to Hedstrom Design, who is purchasing the property. Their offices are currently located at 130 West Jackson, but they are in need of more space. Jeffrey said it was critical to get the right owner in that building in order to make the remainder of the project successful.
Hedstrom Design is a landscape architecture company seems the perfectly suited owner. Not only will their work be compatible with residences, their belief in urban landscaping will be on full display as the current parking lot in front of the building will become a garden, as will the corner of Magnolia and Central. The gardens, which they will design, will not only display their work, it will beautify the property improving both the streetscape and the quality of life for the owners of the residences.
The units will be condos which will begin pre-sale on April 20. The ten units range in size from 860 square feet to almost 1600 square feet and in price from around $160,000 to $295,000. Ten total units will be divided between six upper-level, two-story homes on the Magnolia Avenue Side. As you can see on the rendering, however, they will face a courtyard which will sit behind the small, five-space parking lot designated for Hedstrom. The remaining four units will feature one-level designs and will open up onto the mews, or courtyard behind the building.
A number of amenities are included, such has high-end finishes like granite counter-tops, hardwood floors, double vanities, chef’s kitchens, high quality cabinetry, Bosch dishwashers and walk-in closets. The exposed brick walls are original to the 1932 building. As the two buildings were separated as a part of the project, a new facade had to be constructed for the condos, but the removed brick and wood from throughout the building was used elsewhere to build shelving and other finishes. Each also includes a dedicated parking space in the adjoining secure parking lot. An additional space is available for residents with two cars.
Each of the units are two bedrooms and two baths, with the exception of one unit which has one bedroom and one bath. There is an interesting twist on that front, however, in that the six upper-level town-homes are built with the second bedroom just inside the front door. This purposeful touch was an acknowledgment of the reality that many people work from home and might like an office just inside the front door in which they might not only work privately, but meet with potential customers.
It’s the latest in a long string of developments for Jeffrey Nash’s company, the Courtland Group. Several notable buildings around downtown have been restored at their hands, including their first project, the Keystone Building on Church which was completed in 2002. Originally intended to be rental units, Jeffrey told me he quickly learned customers wanted to purchase the units, so he shifted course and sold them.
With the downtown in the economy a few years later the market shifted dramatically back to rental demand. Though that continues, Jeffrey feels that we now have a pent-up demand for home ownership in the downtown area. Very few new, finished condos have come on the downtown market in the subsequent years, including those in the Glencoe, Elliot and 300 buildings. (You can search available downtown properties by clicking the tab at the top of this page.)
The new development is within sight of the looming Knoxville High School re-development and the recent White Lily development. Serious plans are underway on several adjoining properties. Across Ogden from this property (next to Marie’s), the Courtland group will break ground this fall on another apartment project, which will yield sixteen residences and one commercial space. The new condos are a block from the Public House and Tennessee Valley Bikes, a three-minute walk to the Old City and a ten-minute walk to Market Square. If the planned development happens in the few blocks surrounding this one, the residents may feel increasingly little need to take that walk very often.
Hedstrom will move into their new home within the next few weeks. The ten residential units should be available for occupancy in June or July. Interested? You can track their progress and keep up with the development on The Mews Facebook Page – go there and give them a “like.” The webpage is live, but is under development. Keep an eye on it to improve. It will have floor plans for each of the units and other helpful information. If you are interested in purchasing a unit or want more information, call or email the Courtland Group at 865.524.2525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.