Downtown News, Fun and Giveaways

Farragut Hotel, 530 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2014

Farragut Hotel, 530 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2014

There has been so much going on downtown recently, that an article a day just doesn’t get it all in. I’m going to cover a lot of ground in this article and each item won’t necessarily have a lot to do with the other, so hang on and we’ll try to take it all in – and end the day with giveaway news. Ready?

I’ll start with news that others have reported, but I haven’t mentioned here. I’ve done this before just so my site is as complete a record of this era as I can make it. I can’t break every story, so I’m happy when other people do so.

kress-bldg

Kress Building, Gay Street, Knoxville

First, there are two different barbecue places coming to Gay Street – directly across the street from one another –  though they are quite different. Archer’s BBQ is a local business opening their fifth location in the slender building making up the northern portion of the JC Penny Bldg. Along with Maple Hall and Babalu, this completes the retail space in the project. Here’s the WATE story from last month. The other place focuses more on wings, but also has barbecue and it’s reportedly coming to the Kress Bldg. Wild Wing Cafe is a regional business and the report from WBIR indicates they could open by the end of the year.

In a very different development, Joe Sullivan wrote last week in the Mercury that the Farragut will indeed be a luxury hotel. It’s gone back and forth. Originally, developer Rick Dover indicated he intended to return it to its original use. A number of  indicators suggested that perhaps downtown couldn’t support the addition of those rooms plus others which were planned. Just over a year ago, Joe Sullivan even wrote a pretty persuasive article in Metro Pulse saying as much. As recently as last winter Rick Dover indicated he intended to develop a mix of apartments and luxury suites for long-term stays, eventually switching to all apartments in the Farragut. Now the thinking has gone full-circle. I hope it is a great success and I have to be honest in saying that I really wished it could be a hotel all along.

Frussies Deli, 722 Gay Street, Knoxville, August 2015

Frussies Deli, 722 Gay Street, Knoxville, August 2015

Frussies Deli, 722 Gay Street, Knoxville, August 2015

Frussies Deli, 722 Gay Street, Knoxville, August 2015

The next section is really a series of quick hitters of things I’ve seen around town in the last couple of weeks, starting with the fact that Frussies Deli has now opened on the 700 block of S. Gay. Be sure to support them and all the other businesses on the east side of that block during the coming street work.

"Life in Light," UT Downtown Gallery, Knoxville, August 2015

“Life in Light,” UT Downtown Gallery, Knoxville, August 2015

"Life in Light," UT Downtown Gallery, Knoxville, August 2015

“Life in Light,” UT Downtown Gallery, Knoxville, August 2015

"Life in Light," UT Downtown Gallery, Knoxville, August 2015

“Life in Light,” UT Downtown Gallery, Knoxville, August 2015

August First Friday was so much fun, I had to mention several things about it. So many things happened that night that no one could take it all in. I started at UT’s Downtown Gallery, which is one of my favorite galleries to check out each month. This month features the work of artist Mostafiz Kariga interpreting the works of poet Humayun Kabir. The gallery stretches me a bit every month, is a primary function of art. I’m not sure I understood everything I saw and read, but it is powerful and affecting.

Weird Al Yankovic Line, Knoxville, August 2015

Weird Al Yankovic Line, Knoxville, August 2015

Bruce McCamish Exhibition, Arcade Bldg., Knoxville, August 2015

Bruce McCamish Exhibition, Arcade Bldg., Knoxville, August 2015

Weird Al was in town that night and word was that he and James Taylor (separately) spent a good bit of time walking around downtown and that James Taylor slipped into the Diana Krall show after the lights went down. The line for Weird Al’s sold out show stretched two blocks down Gay Street. It stretched right past one of my other favorite shows from the night, which was an exhibition of Bruce McCamish’s photography in the Arcade Bldg. He’s one of the very best photographing the city. Check it out when you get a chance.

Marcus Hall, Austin Arrowood, Tasha Blakney, Chelsea Bowen and Tinah Utsman Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, August 2015

Marcus Hall, Austin Arrowood, Tasha Blakney, Chelsea Bowen and Tinah Utsman Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, August 2015

Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, August 2015

Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, August 2015

Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, August 2015

Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, August 2015

Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, August 2015

Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, August 2015

I hung around Flow for quite a while that evening and it was packed most of the night and spilling out into the street. There are now six beers on tap and First Friday featured Wiseacre beer. Additionally, Marc Nelson‘s fall line-up debuted and Marcus Hall was present for the evening. Blond Bones played and Ben Seamon’s beautiful art covered the walls. The art is still there and you really should drop into the shop  for a coffee or beer and take a look at the art, which will be up the rest of the month.

Greg Tardy Trio, Bistro at the Bijou, Knoxville, August 2015

Greg Tardy Trio, Bistro at the Bijou, Knoxville, August 2015

Greg Tardy Trio, Bistro at the Bijou, Knoxville, August 2015

Greg Tardy Trio, Bistro at the Bijou, Knoxville, August 2015

Late night is made for jazz and the Bistro at the Bijou and that’s where we stopped off next. Greg Tardy and two friends played the incredible jazz that we’ve become accustomed to in this most unlikely of places for such a scene. A night with friends at the Bistro at the Bijou is always good and I really appreciate Martha’s support of jazz downtown.

Poet, Market Square, Knoxville, August 2015

Poet, Market Square, Knoxville, August 2015

Flash Mob Marriage Proposal, Market Square, Knoxville, August 2015

Flash Mob Marriage Proposal, Market Square, Knoxville, August 2015

Flash Mob Marriage Proposal, Market Square, Knoxville, August 2015

Flash Mob Marriage Proposal, Market Square, Knoxville, August 2015

I don’t have so much to say about the poet, but I found it interesting that he was able to connect to at least one person. One more fun thing to mention before the giveaway news: Last Saturday at the Market Square Farmers’ Market, with the help of members of Circle Modern Dance, a small flash mob of dancers performed as a lead in to a marriage proposal by Jamie Dozier to Circle member, and her long-time partner, Callie Minnich. The answer was, “yes,” which was quite a relief to all – though apparently not a surprise.

Finally, some giveaway news. First, the painting I offered as a giveaway a few weeks ago went to Larry Lewis of Gulfport, Florida. Larry has fallen in love with Knoxville and has become a fan of the blog. He donated $125 to Horse Haven in order to get the painting and I appreciate the generosity. Second, I have another giveaway and, I believe, this is the first of many concert tickets I’ll be able to share. How would you like to see Ry Cooder, Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White at the Tennessee Theatre this Saturday night? Tickets range from $45 to $85, but free is better, right? Send an email with the subject line Ticket Giveaway to knoxvilleurbanguy@gmail.com to enter. Entries must be received by midnight tonight to be considered. I’ll randomly select winners and let you know details via email.

Comments

  1. Since the council approved it, I wonder what brand of hotel it’s going to be. When they say luxury, I think Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons, but surely Knoxville can’t cater to that standard of luxury. At least not any time soon.

  2. Thanks for the roundup! Has anyone heard anything about the “available” sign in front of the Enterprise?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      That one excites me, a bit. That corner needs a great building that has retail fronting both Summit Hill and Central. On the other hand, it’s been pretty nice to walk a couple of blocks from my house and rent a car when I need one.

      • Chris Eaker says

        Have you tried Zipcar? I been wondering about how it has been going downtown.

        • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

          I can’t honestly say that I have. Last I heard it had not taken off very much downtown. I know some people who have used it and loved it, but I don’t know how much that audience has grown. Unfortunately, in this town almost everyone owns at least one car and I’m guessing that’s part of why it hasn’t taken off – at least last I heard.

        • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

          One more thing: Rental cars do serve a different function – like for longer trips. Zip cars really are for a quick local trip. When I need one, it is usually for something out-of-town.

      • Art Wagner says

        I just knew I wasn’t the only person that visualized an interesting corner building for that site. Although I don’t know what existed on the site before the diner, the architectural potential in a corner like that is huge–as long as it doesn’t battle the look of the Old City. Example (among many):
        http://mass.historicbuildingsct.com/?p=139

        • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

          That would be great, but I’m not sure we build them quite like that, anymore. It’s beautiful.

          • Art Wagner says

            It’s not necessarily desirable to recreate a beautiful 1890s building in 2015, but a corner such as that one is crying out for something with the same intrinsic visual appeal and usefulness as a gateway to the Old City. As much as I was drawn to that retro-diner, and to a lesser extent, the car rental place, that corner (and the Old City) deserves something substantially better. With 300 new residences a block away on the verge of happening, that location should be extremely valuable for something that rewards Hatcher-Hill and Knoxville.

          • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

            Agree all around.

    • That space needs to be a diner. A real diner, as opposed to the restaurant that originally occupied it. This may sound like heresy (and it’ll never happen since they have strict models for their buildings), but that could be the crown jewel of Waffle Houses.

  3. Given the progress, or lack thereof, at the Kress Building since the announcement, I’d say Wild Wings Cafe has a slim-to-none chance of opening by the end of the year. And I have some doubts that it will happen at all.
    ~m.

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