The Mews: A New Condo Development on Magnolia

Artist Rendering of the Magnolia View at The Mews

Artist Rendering of the Magnolia View at The Mews

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.

Master Battery Property,  112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, August 2013

Master Battery Property, 112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, August 2013

Master Battery Property,  112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, August 2013

Master Battery Property, 112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, August 2013

Master Battery Property,  112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, August 2013

Master Battery Property, 112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, August 2013

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.

Former Master Battery Property,  112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, October 2014

Former Master Battery Property, 112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, October 2014

Former Master Battery Property,  112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, October 2014

Former Master Battery Property, 112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, October 2014

Former Master Battery Property,  112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, October 2014

Former Master Battery Property, 112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, October 2014

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.

Former Master Battery Property,  112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, January 2015

Former Master Battery Property, 112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, January 2015

Headstrom Design,  112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, April 2015

Headstrom Design, 112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, April 2015

The Mews,  112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, April 2015

The Mews, 112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, April 2015

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.

Site Plan Including Lower Floors of The Mews

Site Plan Including Lower Floors of The Mews

Site Plan Including Upper Floors of The Mews

Site Plan Including Upper Floors of The Mews

Sample Floor Plan for The Mews

Sample Floor Plan for The Mews

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.

Jeffrey Nash, Courtland Group, Knoxville, April 2015

Jeffrey Nash, Courtland Group, Knoxville, April 2015

The Mews,  112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, April 2015

The Mews, 112 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, April 2015

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.

Artist Rendering of an Interior at The Mews

Artist Rendering of an Interior at The Mews

Artist Rendering of the Rear Courtyard at The Mews

Artist Rendering of the Rear Courtyard at The Mews

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 themews@courtlandgroup.com.

Comments

  1. Wow. I walked nearby on Depot Ave dozens of times but never walked a block over to see the front. Laziness doesn’t pay! Very cool looking.

  2. Billy Dyke says

    Have watched construction on this project with keen interest. Amazing work by Jeffrey Nash and his Courtland Group. I especially like the gardens and courtyard planned for the development. There is work going on all over that area from Regas Square to The Mews. Now if we could just move the Greyhound Bus depot somewhere….like the transit center. What an eyesore!! Yuck!

  3. Bill Lyons says

    This is an excellent project. We appreciate your highlighting this as it is a great example of the City of Knoxville’s priority for quality development out from the downtown core. This project is especially important because it is a part of the eastern movement from the Old City toward the Magnolia Warehouse district and the model blocks presently at the design stage.

    We at the City are very pleased the Jeffrey Nash is undertaking this project and taking the risks associated with such an endeavor. It is also very important to take note of the fact that this project, along with many others, would not take place without the financial participation of the City of Knoxville. This project was approved for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) support. on June 11, 2014.
    http://knoxvillecitytn.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=1089&MediaPosition=&ID=3006&CssClass=
    This means that the major portion of the increased property taxes produced by this project will used to finance the project. The TIF was approved for up to 15 years.

    We developed the TIF program in 2004 and have been working with outstanding developers. Most every major project in downtown since that time has utilized TIFs or Payment in Lieu of taxes (PILOTS), our two major tools for development when projects are otherwise not financially feasible.

    It is very important that people realize that local government is an active player along with our developers and that without TIFs,PILOTS, and our facade program downtown would look nothing like it now does.The approach has worked,and will continue to work very well. It does rest on a reservoir of public and political support and we should never take that support for granted. Thanks.

    City Council, CBID and the City Community Development Department, KCDC, the IDB are all partners in this process, which is coordinated and led by the CIty’s Department of Redevelopment. This approach is fundamental to Mayor Rogero’s strategy for continued revitalization of the downtown and surrounding core of our city.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      All true enough, of course, and important for people to know. I might also add that TDOT cooperated in this development by allowing additional room for the gardens.

  4. I walk by this site often and was very excited to see the new development and restoration work. The landscaping aspect makes it even more attractive. With all the activity going on across the tracks, is there a plan to push on to Emory Place?

  5. Larry Lewis says

    Wow! Another local example of a developer showing true vision, in so many aspects of this project. The photos (and existing Google Map view) illustrate a remarkable transformance. I’d only gently suggest that someone revisit the sample floor plan, using unit #101, as shown, to fix a big typo. Also, the guest bathroom seems larger than the primary one(?). Anyway, kudos to all involved, including the city for the TIF deal.

  6. I am ashamed to say that I have not been over to this corner in a while. I had no idea how much the project has progressed. Awesome! I’m sure you like that name UG. I think you introduced much of Knoxville to the word “Mews”.

  7. I have also been watching the construction as well and I’ve been wondering about the interior of the units. Thanks for the info Urban Guy!

  8. Beautiful! I think Jeffrey Nash does wonderful work.

  9. Michael j says

    Murder in the mews…an Agatha Christie story. I wondered what a mews was when I read the story.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      For those with less than a stellar memory like John in Knoxville, it is a space formed by two parallel buildings – which used to be stables. In London they are everywhere and labeled with names just like streets and are not upscale residences. The closest thing we have to it in Knoxville may be found at the end of Union Avenue at Kendrick Place, beside Chesapeake’s – though those buildings were never actually stables. Lovely space, I must say.

  10. Scott Robbins says

    Just repeating what I said on Facebook: Average pricing for downtown space is running around $212/sq ft, which would put a 1600 sq ft 2BR apartment at a market price of $339,000. These units if sold at those prices would be a bargain vs. the market, considering also that the inventory available is very, very low. Might be a smart move to ensure they are immediately sold and can recoup investment, giving new owners some instant equity in their properties. On the other hand, maximizing their profit would call for higher pricing, which they surely could get. Great project, I’ve driven past it every single day on my way to/from work for months and we were wondering what it was going to consist of.

  11. This sounds like an interesting project and part of me wants to share the enthusiasm of other commenters, but I still wonder: what’s the point of rehabilitating a battery shop? Might that be taking the whole ‘historical preservation’ idea a bit too far? To be clear, I wholeheartedly support investment in the architecturally-significant structures on Gay St and industrial properties with obvious aesthestic value, like the White Lilly property. And I support ‘historic preservation’ as a general principle. But this battery shop seems marginal to the city’s identity and having little, if any, architectural value. Might it be cheaper to demolish and start anew? Or does the structure have some type of merit that isn’t obvious?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I’m not the best person to address this, but it may be that having the bones in place in a case like this does save some work/money. Also, there’s the value of goodwill and the cost of bad will. Preserving the building engenders some of the former and demolishing a building engenders some of the latter. Since we don’t typically, in this city, replace demolished buildings with better ones, I’m glad to see them preserved. Legit question, though. There must be some sort of line somewhere. Anyone?

    • Just a guess, but I think the materials used in older buildings tend to be of much higher quality than materials used in new buildings. And of course it is much more environmentally friendly to reuse and renovate than tear down and build new. And a lot of people would disagree with you about the architectural significance of an old battery shop. No one builds things like that now, so why not preserve it in some way? New buildings tend to be ugly brick blocks because it is much more expensive to do any kind of interesting detail on them, compared to how buildings were built back in the early 20th century.

  12. Dan raper says

    One of my first employment opportunities was here.
    At the time Liberty Tire And Batterty owned by Mr. Ralph Walton.

  13. Scott Robbins says

    pre-sale date came and went ….

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