Every Single Downtown Question Answered! (Or at least a few of them)

Exterior of the Mews, 129 S. Central St., Knoxville, October 2015

Exterior of the Mews, Magnolia Ave., Knoxville, October 2015

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article offering small updates from around downtown. I thought I’d stay ahead of the curve a bit and give everyone some insight into current developments. I underestimated my audience. Over thirty comments later I realized you have a longer list of questions than I had answered in the article and I needed to get working to keep up with you.

So, I’ve tracked down some of the answers to questions I was asked then, as well as a few I’ve run into otherwise. I know you have more questions and I’m working it, but this is what I have for you right now. I promise I’ll have more later and you are certainly welcome to add questions in the comments (as if you need me to invite you to do so).

Marie’s Old Towne Tavern drew a lot of attention and people questioned what would happen next on that site. I’d stated before, based on conversations with Jeffrey Nash, that apartments would be built beside Marie’s. It turns out Marie’s, which is a separate building from the others on that block, will be demolished. In its place will be a retail and apartment building which will stretch down Ogden Street. The hope is they will break ground in June or July on that project.

I asked Jeffrey how many units were still available in The Mews which is the first condo project in that section of downtown. The answer? Zero. The final unit closed January 15. According to Mr. Nash, that is the fastest selling condo development ever in Knoxville.

A reader had asked about another Courtland Group (Mr. Nash’s company) project they had noticed at 1132 6th Avenue, which is just east of 6th Avenue between the Fourth and Gill and Parkridge neighborhoods. That, he explained will be the new business offices and manufacturing center for Patricia Nash. The business had outgrown the space on the 100 block and that storefront will expand its retail into the space previously used by the offices. They are increasing their men’s line and are introducing a line of shoes.

I’d also been asked about the departure of Free Service Tire, which was located on Magnolia just to the west of TVB and on the same block as the new Regas development. It doesn’t take a genius to determine that this property would be sought after by developers as it is virtually surrounded by development. It is for sale, but to date the price at which it is offered has not been appealing to developers. It will be interesting to learn if the price drops or if the property remains vacant as property values catch up to the asking price.

J.C. Holdway, Daylight Building, Knoxville, March 2016

J.C. Holdway, Daylight Building, Knoxville, March 2016

Plans for Lonesome Dove, Patrick Sullivan's Bldg., Knoxville, March 2016

Plans for Lonesome Dove, Patrick Sullivan’s Bldg., Knoxville, March 2016

Two restaurants have been on everyone’s watch list and there is movement on each front in the last couple of weeks. Plans can be seen in the photo taken inside Tim Love’s new restaurant inside the old Patrick Sullivan’s building and I’m told workers have begun stirring about inside. Demolition has begun on Chef Joseph Lenn’s future restaurant, J.C. Holdway, inside the Daylight Building. The photo here was taken before they entered the “brown paper” phase and covered the windows.

A third restaurant that seemed to be emerging in Happy Holler, next to Retrospect, appears to have gone completely off the tracks. Construction had been stopped-and-started on the corner for over a year. I’m told, though I haven’t confirmed it, that a local well-known restaurateur has purchased it, which should mean good things.

Bootleg Betty has closed at 122 S. Gay Street. The Facebook Page says they are “growing,” and makes no mention of moving, but the storefront is empty and family members told me the store will relocate to the west “near Planet Exchange.” Interestingly, it was only last month I introduced you to the new owner Jennifer Rogers who expressed her pleasure at being downtown. I guess the pleasure didn’t last long.

I checked with Marble Alley and asked how leasing is going there. The most recent information I have is about two weeks old, so the numbers could have shifted by now, but here’s the breakdown at that point: 109 units have been released. Of those, eighteen are currently occupied and others have been leased, but not occupied as of yet. In total (this summer), 248 apartments will be made available. Of these, 35% have been pre-leased or are currently leased. My math says that translates to about 87 units.

Marble Alley Lofts, Knoxville, March 2016

Marble Alley Lofts, Knoxville, March 2016

The city’s improvement plans along Jackson Avenue have also been the source of questions. This will move slowly and in phases. Recent approval of plans were given for the the first phase of the improvements which will focus only on the south side of Jackson between Central and State. This stretch sits in front of  The Daniel and construction will likely (I’m assuming) coincide with the completion of that project which will come some time this summer, though residents have begun moving in. I hope to have updated numbers on how that’s going, very soon.

Finally, I spoke to Tim Hill about a couple of pending projects. The parking lot (one of the three lots between the Century Building and Mast General is, “in the early planning stages,” so nothing is imminent there, though he indicated renderings should be available soon and I’ll be sure to pass those along as soon as I have them. I also asked him about the town homes planned for the hill beside Ryan’s Row. He said construction may start, “as early as May.”

I know there is more about which you are curious. So am I. I’ll try to find out what I can and pass it on in updates like this one. I also have news coming very soon on several openings I think you’ll find exciting.


  1. Jeannette Brown says

    What about Bliss? And the used wedding dress place that’s moving?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Bliss is doing a front-end remodel is what I understand, though I have not asked the owners directly. I’ve added a paragraph about the “wedding dress place,” Bootleg Betty. I forgot to through that in and probably added it about the time you were writing the question. See, I can’t keep up with you guys!

  2. Interesting developments, for sure. Thanks! I hope there will soon be good news about the forlorn buildings on the corner of State and what used to be Vine as well. Those buildings could be beautiful.

  3. I may have missed it in another blog post, but did Wild Wing Cafe pull out of the Kress Building?

  4. Larry Lewis says

    ‘Scuse my anality, Alan, but I see you’re still using the street address of the Courtland Group for that of the Mews. I suppose everybody knows where it is, anyway.

  5. Thanks as always, Alan.

  6. I’ve got another downtown question that you might know the answer to – the hulking, mostly windowless AT&T building on Broadway and Depot – what is in it? I never see much activity there.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Ah, the most beautiful building in the city? The one visible to all passers-through on the Interstate? I’ve only heard rumors that the outside might be dressed up, but I have no idea otherwise.

    • That is the main central office for Knoxville. As such, it isn’t going anywhere since basically every phone line in the area goes through that building. Stolen from the web:
      What is a Telephone Central Office??

      A central office is a structure used by telecommunications companies to house equipment needed to direct and process telephone calls and data traffic. Telephone Central Offices (CO’s) are also known as telephone switching centers, wire centers or telephone exchanges. Central offices are analogues to electrical substations in the power industry.

      The Telephone CO is typically a multi-story building constructed of concrete or masonry and is usually windowless. The buildings are designed to withstand major climatic events (hurricanes, tornados, thunderstorms) and unauthorized access necessary to ensure the continuity of telephone service and protection of the sensitive electronic equipment.

      • Chris Eaker says

        I wonder how necessary a building like this is now that most people do not have land lines and those that do have VOIP.

  7. Mary Linda Schwarzbart says

    So much going on — breathless reading about it. And, I can only imagine the time and energy you spend to collect all of this. I always love learning about the new developments in my city.

  8. Thanks for this. As I drive and walk around downtown, I always come up with questions about what is happening where, and this helps.

  9. Is that development still happening on the old news sentinel site?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I hope to have more on that very soon.

      • can’t wait to hear about it seems like forever ago that they announced plans for that site. I was very excited to hear that something was happening there again after the let down of the Sentinel Tower!! Hope it doesn’t happen again. Thanks for all your information.

  10. I peeked in the window of the Patrick Sullivan building last night. Sad to see the beautiful old bar and booths (at which I spent a not insignificant amount of my life seated) gutted out. I hope the new interior pays respects to the ambiance and history of the building.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I had heard everything would be hauled out. I hope at least the bar resurfaces some place down the line.

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