A Look at Marble Alley: Today and in the Near Future

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Rendering of Marble Alley Lofts

Marble Alley has been a topic of discussion in concept since I started this website. It was a point of some contention in the design phase and it underwent changes throughout the last five years. The ground-breaking took place over a year ago. For some time after that the efforts on the site seemed to produce not much more than shifting piles of dirt. Then it started rising and taking shape and has, even before it opens become a presence downtown.

Exterior of Marble Alley Construction, Knoxville, July 2015

Exterior of Marble Alley Construction, Knoxville, July 2015

Exterior of Marble Alley Construction, Knoxville, July 2015

Exterior of Marble Alley Construction, Knoxville, July 2015

View of Marble Alley Construction from Gay Street, Knoxville, August 2015

View of Marble Alley Construction from Gay Street, Knoxville, August 2015

As Buzz Goss gave me a tour last week he  mentioned the he has been surprised at just how visible and how much of a presence the structure has become. I’d noticed it already and it surprised me, as well. Sometimes the geographic relationships of downtown aren’t obvious until you see them from a new perspective or with a new point of reference. Marble Alley is providing a new point of reference. For example, I’d never realized we’d be able to see it from the Old City, but it’s visible from many spots along Jackson and out Central.

Lobby Construction, Marble Alley Construction, Knoxville, July 2015

Lobby Construction, Marble Alley Construction, Knoxville, July 2015

 

Exterior of Marble Alley Construction, Knoxville, July 2015

Construction of Game Room and Fitness Center, Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

Rendering of Game Room, Marble Alley, Knoxville, August 2015

Rendering of Game Room, Marble Alley, Knoxville, August 2015

Rendering of Fitness Room, Marble Alley, Knoxville, August 2015

Rendering of Fitness Room, Marble Alley, Knoxville, August 2015

The most notable point from which it is visible also highlights one of the contributions the project will make. Looking from Gay Street through the gap created by the fire and subsequent demolition in 1974 of the Terminal Building, the view before Marble alley was an ocean of asphalt, backed by the James White Parkway. Downtown seemed to “end” just behind Gay Street. Now visitors to the city can look through the gap and see there is more “there”there. I think it’s an important contribution to the texture of the city.

View from Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

View from Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

View from Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

View from Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

View from Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

View from Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

View from Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

View from Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

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View from Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

The relationship between the Old City and downtown proper has been a point of the construction from the beginning. The two seem quite separated to many people, largely because of the fairly steep hill between the two. The new residential development makes clear that the two are really quite connected – and more so now than before. It’s about a block to either the Old City or to Gay Street from the building, a fact that will no doubt attract many residents.

Balcony Construction, Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

Balcony Construction, Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

Interior Construction of Marble Alley Lofts, Knoxville, July 2015

Interior Construction of Marble Alley Lofts, Knoxville, July 2015

Interior Construction of Marble Alley Lofts, Knoxville, July 2015

Interior Construction of Marble Alley Lofts, Knoxville, July 2015

Interior Construction of Marble Alley Lofts, Knoxville, July 2015

Interior Construction of Marble Alley Lofts, Knoxville, July 2015

Interior Construction of Marble Alley Lofts, Knoxville, July 2015

Interior Construction of Marble Alley Lofts, Knoxville, July 2015

The building will feature amenities either not currently found downtown or at least very usual for downtown. It starts with an internal parking garage (370 spaces) offering, in many cases, very direct access to the units. A pool will be included in the internal courtyard as will an outdoor grilling area available to residents. An inviting lobby at the main entrance – which is on State Street – will open into a workout room and will overlook a game room for residents.

Rendering of Apartment, Marble Alley, Knoxville, August 2015

Rendering of Apartment, Marble Alley, Knoxville, August 2015

Rendering of Apartment, Marble Alley, Knoxville, August 2015

Rendering of Apartment, Marble Alley, Knoxville, August 2015

Each of the units will have granite counter-tops and hardwood floors. Most will have a balcony and the choices of views range from a view toward Gay Street, toward the mountains, the Old City or, for those who prefer, a view of the courtyard. I noted a number of downtown iconic structures visible from one perspective or another including the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, First Presbyterian Church, Patrick Sullivan’s, Knoxville High School, the Sterchi Building and more.

Dobber, 500 Square Feet

Dobber, 500 Square Feet

Marley 670 Sq Ft $1210 - $1279

Marley 670 Sq Ft $1210 – $1279

Jasper 952 Sq Ft $1554-$1684

Jasper 952 Sq Ft $1554-$1684

Aggie 1157 Sq Ft $1759

Aggie 1157 Sq Ft $1759

Bennington, 1187 Sq Ft

Bennington, 1187 Sq Ft

Prices vary widely depending on location of the apartment (generally the higher, the more expensive) and the size. The two-hundred-forty-eight units will include both one and two bedrooms and the square footage will range from 500 square feet up to nearly 1200 square feet. Prices range from right around $1000 dollars a month to $1759 per month.

Courtyard Construction, Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

Courtyard Construction, Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

Courtyard Construction, Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

Courtyard Construction, Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

Courtyard Construction, Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

Courtyard Construction, Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

Pre-leasing has begun and close to 15% of the units are taken even without a completed unit to show potential residents. I’ve felt, as have others I’ve spoken to, that this development will be a test of the downtown market. Right now, leasing a downtown apartment is a highly competitive affair, with very few units available. The addition of 248 units to the market at one time is something we’ve not seen, perhaps in downtown’s entire history. If and how quickly they fill will, no doubt, have an impact on development going forward. Early indications are that filling them will not be difficult.

Rendering of Grilling Area, Marble Alley, Knoxville, August 2015

Rendering of Grilling Area, Marble Alley, Knoxville, August 2015

Rendering of the Completed Court Yard, Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

Rendering of the Completed Court Yard, Marble Alley, Knoxville, July 2015

First residents will likely move in three months from now, with move-in dates phased in afterwards. For example, the move-in date for someone leasing today would be December and the date will continue rolling based on progress in the development. All amenities, however, will be available in November. Interestingly, that means the pool, which will be maintained (though not heated) year-round.

The other impact I’m curious to experience is that of the increase in residents downtown. It’s hard to say what percentage increase this will represent, because the current population estimates are surprisingly wide-ranging. Just for the sake of the discussion, one source (city-data.com) estimated the population of the 37902 zip code to be 1,810 in 2013. I would say we’ve easily reached 2,000, if you consider what’s been added in the last couple of years.

Assuming that’s accurate and, assuming that about 100 of the new apartments include two residents, meaning a total of around 350 additional residents, that would produce a 17.5% increase in residential population over a two month or so period. This doesn’t even take into account the 20 units coming soon to the JC Penney Bldg or the 70 coming soon to the former John H. Daniel Bldg. That percentage of increase, I believe, will result in a noticeable difference on the sidewalks, in the restaurants and in the retail shops. It will likely also attract more retail options to the city.

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of downtown living at Marble Alley Lofts, you can contact them via the webpage, or you may call Tracey at 865-230-1860.

Comments

  1. Kathy Slocum says:

    Until they bring in more grocery stores and pharmacies, this seems crazy.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      I don’t think it’s crazy, at all. Pushing the envelop, maybe. We’ll know very soon. As for grocery stores, you can catch a free trolley a block from Marble Alley and go to Publix. Additionally, the people there will likely all have cars and are within a couple of miles of multiple grocery stores – just like the suburbs. As for a pharmacy, they’ll have one just across the street in the Phoenix Bldg by sometime next month. That’s probably closer than you’d have in most suburban areas. Keep an eye on this space and we’ll talk about whether it turns out to be crazy. I’m betting not.

  2. I’m going to want access to that pool! Too bad it wont be heated and too bad I won’t be a resident. This is an exciting project and I hope those units fill up. I kind of expected that 15% to be a bit higher by now… I guess with nothing to really show perspective renters that’s reasonable.

    Thanks Urban Guy!

  3. The near-term development potential of every surface parking lot downtown probably hinges on the success of this project. Pretty big stakes stuff.

    Big applause to the developer for taking the initiative and risk.

  4. Stephanie says:

    What about new downtown area lofts or condos for sale that might be coming on the market

  5. Did you hear anything about the phase 2 portion during your tour? One of the local news channels had a recent article on Marble Alley and stated phase 2 is supposed to open October 2016. Their website says phase 2 is supposed to include an additional 175 units. But that is all I have been able to find on it.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      I will have more very soon. It’s an interesting indication of the intensity with people are viewing downtown, that phase 1 has not been completed and people want to know about phase 2. It’s an exciting time to live in the city.

  6. More people downtown will definitely be a good thing. Let’s hope the progress continues. 2000+ downtowners represent only a start though, and a tiny fraction of what the urban core once housed. $1k per month is a lot to pay for what appears to be a 500 sq ft studio. This will definitely be a test of the downtown market.

    I’m still curious as to why this large structure was built entirely of wood in an urban area comprised almost exclusively of brick, concrete, and steel frame construction.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      It will have a good bit of brick and the colors will alternate by section to give it a similar feeling to the smaller buildings more typical along a downtown street. The colors were also chosen to reflect those found downtown. I suspect cost would be the answer to why they won’t be all-brick on the outside, but that’s just speculation on my part.

    • I agree about the cost. I and some other downtown dwellers were discussing the cost and found it a bit absurd. I can’t see this place filling up very quickly with the ridiculous price point they’re starting at.

      • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

        That’s going to be part of the fascinating story, isn’t it? Costs of all residences and retail leases are skyrocketing downtown. Only time will tell if it is an escalation that the market can bear.

    • How much did the urban core used to hold? I am just curious.

      • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

        I think this is a good question – one for Jack Neeley, probably. My crazy guess would be that it may never have held more than it holds right now. High rises weren’t historically part of downtown before the last century and, at that point, held offices only. I bet it wasn’t more than a few hundred residents. But I could be crazy wrong. Anybody?

  7. So true. The vision I had was of something much smaller. It’s always a bit shocking when I see it thru the Gay St. gap. But in a good way.

    Any updates on the John Daniels building? I understand they were to have a website up this summer. Havent seen one. Perhaps they’ve changed the name?

    • Thanks for your interest in the former John H. Daniel building renovation. A full website will be launched in early September with leasing info and floor plans (www.thedanielonjackson.com) and look for an update here on Inside Knoxville soon as well.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      I haven’t heard anything recently about the John H. Daniel Bldg. I do think the name will change, but I don’t know that a new name has been announced.

  8. Steven Harris says:

    So any idea what phase 2 looks like for the building? Obviously the southern half of the parking lot is being used as staging area now, but whats next?

    Also ive heard state street was going two way for this development. Is this true and will it extend just to Union then or will it go all the way down?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      I’ll have phase two information, soon. State Street will be two way on the end next to Summit Hill and, I think that will extend down to the State Street Garage, though I’m not positive about that part.

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