Last week the city unveiled its latest plan for the Magnolia Avenue corridor improvements. You’ll find the full plan here in great detail and I’ll leave it to those of you interested in that level of detail to access it there. The renderings you see in this article came from that source.
The scope of the project is to spend between $6 and $8 million in two phases stretching over the next two years – with each contingent on funding. The first phase, “pending approval of the design and project budget, . . . could begin in early 2017.” The italics are mine, intended to emphasize that dirt will not start turning any time soon and the city seems to be presenting the long-discussed plans in very tentative language.
If approved, the first phase of the project would focus on a three block area of Magnolia stretching from Jessamine Street to Myrtle Street. The second phase, beginning – in a best case scenario – two years from now, would extend the project another three blocks from Myrtle to North Bertrand Street.
As to what is planned, the press release states, “Proposed improvements include adding 14-foot-tall brick gateway pillars; raised medians to replace the center left-turn lane; bike lanes; and bus pull-offs. Streetscape amenities would include attractive new black street light poles and crossbars with LED lights, wider sidewalks, benches and bike racks. Left-turn lanes will be provided at major intersections, and crosswalks would be colored and patterned to enhance both aesthetics and pedestrian safety. Utility lines would be relocated, and new trees would anchor the landscaping design.”
Any improvements would be welcome along the corridor which is currently home to numerous abandoned buildings and empty parking lots – in addition to some long-term businesses and nascent development. The unfortunate construction of Hall of Fame Drive which created a break between sections of Magnolia made natural development out that corridor more difficult since the current boom in development on Magnolia near Gay Street and Broadway is severed from its former connection to the east.
Hopeful signs in the area include the location of the Pellissippi State campus, the private investment in the Parkridge area and the advent of a circuitous development connection to downtown development, between Jackson and Magnolia via Humes and Georgia Avenue. It’s near the Georgia/Magnolia intersection that Last Days of Autumn will soon open at 808 E. Magnolia. Should Standard Knitting Mills cease its languishing and see promised development, that would add tremendous energy to the area, as well, though nothing I’ve seen indicates such movment.
The current designs are not firm and if you are so inclined, you might influence their final form. Comments will be taken through February 4 and should be directed to project manager Bryan Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org.