Broadway, We’ve Got Problems

Broadway Corridor Enhancement Plan, Knoxville, November 2016

Broadway Corridor Enhancement Plan, Knoxville, November 2016

I stretched a little out of my normal coverage zone to attend the meeting to discuss the recommendations of Broadway Corridor Task Force meeting at St. James Episcopal Church on Broadway. I normally cover Broadway up to the spot where it is joined by Hall of Fame. The focus of this meeting was the stretch that starts there and goes north to Branson. Since it impacts many of my readers, particularly in Old North and Fourth and Gill, I decided to look in on the meeting and, making note of those plans, point out some of my concerns about Broadway closer in.

It’s a short, but messy and complicated stretch. The task force described it as “unfriendly to pedestrians,” with too many and too wide curb cuts, a busy road, “multiple vacant and derelict properties,” and inconsistent “codes, zoning requirements and enforcement.” The stretch includes liquor stores, check cashing stores, rent-to-own stores, title loan stores and more of that ilk. On the up side, it contains a creek that could be brought back and enhanced, some good building stock and an active retail population.

Broadway Corridor Enhancement Plan, Knoxville, November 2016

Broadway Corridor Enhancement Plan, Knoxville, November 2016

Broadway Corridor Enhancement Plan, Knoxville, November 2016

Broadway Corridor Enhancement Plan, Knoxville, November 2016

Broadway Corridor Enhancement Plan, Knoxville, November 2016

Broadway Corridor Enhancement Plan, Knoxville, November 2016

The task force is simply imagining what could be, at this point, though with the backing of the mayor. A number of city and county officials were present and the plans were developed by the East Tennessee Community Design Center. Among other things, they suggested building a town center around the Broadway Shopping Center. They’d like to include things like a farmer’s market or a business incubator, encourage mixed use development and add a district marker. Essentially, “making place.”

Structurally, they’d like to see medians, a realignment of Cecil Ave and improvements to McCrosky, improved bus stops and a bus hub to be located at the new town center. They’d like to see First Creek emphasized and improved, new neighborhood entries serving to separate residential neighborhoods from the commercial development on Broadway and a better connection for the greenway through the area.

Broadway Corridor Enhancement Plan, Knoxville, November 2016

Broadway Corridor Enhancement Plan, Knoxville, November 2016

New Fence at Broadway Shopping Center, Knoxville, November 2016

New Fence at Broadway Shopping Center, Knoxville, November 2016

These are all hopes and suggestions. No funding has been allocated. The thinking seems to be that if people are excited about the ideas, maybe some of them might be pursued a bit at a time, some with private funding, some with public and some with a blend. The state DOT among others will have to be on board for major changes to happen.

The mayor pointed out that a number of businesses along the strip have joined the effort by improving their properties. That would explain the recent erection of a large metal fence running much of the length of the Broadway Shopping Center. I’m not sure it’s what the task force had in mind, but, to my eyes, it seems out of place and more than a little over-the-top for the area. No doubt expensive, it does show the area businesses may be ready to upgrade their properties and area of the city.

Broadway Viaduct, Knoxville, November 2016

Broadway Viaduct, Knoxville, November 2016

Closer to downtown, I’m concerned about several spots along Broadway. Some of the answers to my concerns may be in the works. I wrote a year ago about a road diet for the stretch of Broadway from Central Street to Jackson. As far as I know that will come to fruition in conjunction with the planned replacement of the Broadway viaduct which is (currently) scheduled for next year.

I’ll take my concerns starting from the north, moving toward downtown. The first is the so called “mission district,” under and around I-40. It scares me – and not for my safety, but for that of the people I could easily run over in my car. Often, one of the dozens or sometimes much more than a hundred, it seems, unpredictably walks into traffic. Whether drug addled, mentally and psychologically impaired or belligerent – and I think I’ve seen all of the above – doesn’t really matter. The risk is still the same.

Broadway Under the Viaduct, Knoxville, November 2016

Broadway Under the Viaduct, Knoxville, November 2016

There are other issues, as well. Police and medical providers are almost always on the scene when my wife drives that path to work each day. It’s rare that the right-hand lane going north is available due to police cars, ambulances and other vehicles. Public health is a concern. A walk through the area reveals piles of garbage and the smells of human waste. Public urination and fights are common sights in the area. Not only are these safety concerns, they are also the view offered to guests when entering our city via one of our main approaches. It doesn’t seem like the face we want to present.

When I took the photographs you see here, I heard someone behind me say, “Fair warning.” I turned to see a couple sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against a building. The man was muscular and shirtless. He repeated, “Fair warning.” I asked him what he meant. Was he saying I shouldn’t take photographs? He said I could from a distance (I was). He said, “Things can happen.”

Broadway Under the Viaduct, Knoxville, November 2016

Broadway Under the Viaduct, Knoxville, November 2016

It became clear that this wasn’t a warning meant to protect me, but rather a threat. He stood. I walked away and he pursued me. I turned to face him and he told me he needed money to buy food. It didn’t seem like a request. Rather than lose my camera, or worse, I gave him five dollars. He said he wanted twenty. I walked back to my car and he let me go.

It is not my intent to be devoid of compassion, but pretending this is not an issue doesn’t seem a very compassionate alternative. I don’t know the solution, but surely we can do better. At the very least, a less intensely trafficked arterial road needs to be found for these folks to spend their day. I realize the issue is very complicated, but ceding a part of the city to this kind of situation isn’t the answer. Obviously, the best solution would involve providing homes to everyone, but we don’t seem to be very successful on that front.

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Moving closer to downtown, I’m concerned about the pedestrian traffic crossing Broadway to reach Balter. The roads come together there in an odd way and there are no painted crosswalks or crossing lights on Broadway. Given that the business is frequented in the dark – especially starting next week when time changes, it seems like an accident waiting to happen. Perhaps this will be improved with the Jackson Avenue streetscape project or the road diet for Broadway, though that project stops just short of Balter, but neither of those will happen soon.

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Finally, the intersection of Broadway/Henley and Summit Hill/Western needs a serious look. Foot and bike traffic has increased dramatically through the intersection. Students from the L&N Stem School often look like the frightened school children they are as they scurry across. More downtown residents and visitors than ever are crossing Summit Hill headed north due, again, to Balter.

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

The problems include speed, the strange configuration of lights for Western Avenue traffic turning left onto Broadway (which often leaves drivers frustrated and confused) and a turn-only lane coming from Western onto Henley which is often disregarded to go straight onto Summit Hill. Additionally, both northbound traffic on Henley and southbound traffic on Broadway have right turn cut-throughs that they take at high speed. While the cross walk over each is brief, both pedestrian and vehicle visibility is extremely limited for the speeds involved.

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Pedestrian Crosswalks at Broadway/Henley and Western/Summit Hill, Knoxville, November 2016

Of perhaps greatest concern, the pedestrian crossings at the intersection involve five or six lanes in every direction and, to make matters worse, the roads cut angles, meaning the crosswalks are not right angles and, thus are even longer than six lanes would ordinarily necessitate. With traffic potentially coming from numerous directions and rarely seeming aware that turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians, it is treacherous to cross. As more and more people do so, the likelihood of a tragedy increases.


  1. Mary Linda Schwarzbart says

    Re: Structurally, they’d like to see medians

    I would like medians to be painted, perhaps with reflective paint, to make it easier to see them. When it is dark, and the median is low, it can be hard to see.

    • Dayton Hanford says

      I second that proposal, Take a look at all the tire marks on the end of every median in town. Bright and reflective paint would be much better than the post and small reflectors that are nine times out of ten run over within a week of putting them up.

  2. Bob Graves says

    Great thoughts on this Alan. Having lived in Ft City for 5 years and now a downtown resident, Broadway has always perplexed us. As a gateway it’s sad. As a functional, safe roadway it’s worse.

  3. The intersection of N Broadway and Jackson Ave/Worlds Fair Park is planned to get crosswalks (5 total) with the West Jackson Ave Streetscapes and yes, bike facilities are still coming for Broadway. KUB is doing infrastructure upgrades on Broadway in the spring, once that project is complete, the bike facilities will be installed (probably summer/fall 2017)

  4. Those road configurations are wacko. More evidence that Tennessee traffic engineers are heavily into hallucinogenic drugs.

  5. Why are you such a dick about homeless people? “we don’t seem to be very successful on that front”. Jesus. Providing homes for these folks should be priority number 1, before doing literally anything else

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I wouldn’t let you call anyone else that on this discussion board, of course, but I’ll go ahead and let it stand since you are talking about me. Oddly, we agree about the top priority. About the only thing I said about them is that I don’t want to run over them or allow them to jeopardize public health. I’m not sure how that qualifies me to be characterized in such a manner. If you would be willing to speak in a more civil manner, I’d love to have you address what I’ve said specifically that seems so wrong. I am open to learning from different perspectives.

      • Brian Pittman says

        Sorry but I didn’t think Alan deserved that comment. I don’t think he was rude or intrusive but rather interested in their plight and how not to harm them when driving by. I just about have to stop so as to avoid hitting someone daily. I too agree housing the homeless is priority one. If Utah can do it so can we. But that’s not the point of this article. Just one parcel. I also agree the fence along the shopping center seems out of place and yes “a bit much”. But most everything else seems an improvement if the funding can be allocated. Mostly I’m excited about the renovation to the Broadway Viaduct because as I understand it they raised the Gay Street Viaduct to receive passenger trains and that the Broadway Viaduct is the last physical obstacle in getting that to K-town. Which I find charming and exciting and would also be good for Broadway.

  6. Yes, driving down broadway thru the viaduct/KARM/mission district is chancey, as you mentioned, many times I’ve had people just walk across the street with no regard to traffic. Sometimes you get a belligerent look, I’ve even been given the finger because one idiot came close to being hit and I was not going more than 20 mph (you can’t go any faster thru there). I’ve seen people just walk in front of cars with no concern while the cars come screeching to a halt. For this reason most folks use the Hall of Fame drive. But imagine someone new to town who doesn’t know about it.

  7. Lots of good points and observations in this column. My wife and I walk a LOT downtown, as does Urban Guy, but we never walk down Broadway past the “Mission District.” We walk around it past the old First Christian Church Building. We’ve also had scary encounters with drifters who, to be frank, are becoming more aggressive than they were a few years ago. I’m not sure why. I don’t want to turn this into a discussion of the homeless and needy. It’s a huge issue, and we’ve exchanged a lot of thoughts about it already on this blog. But, having a walkable, inviting downtown means ensuring the safety and security of everyone downtown. I’m concerned about the trend.

    As for road and intersection design, I agree with everything expressed here. Crossing Broadway at Jackson is ridiculous. No pedestrian signal or walkway exists at this complicated intersection. I’m glad it will be fixed. However, there are many other instances downtown with similar problems. Try crossing Henley on the south side of the river. The sidewalk is closed by the hospital and there is no crosswalk, even though pedestrians are instructed to cross to the other side. This intersection was recently “improved.” Is this is the kind of improvement planned for the Broadway/Jackson interchange, we should all be concerned. I’d also point out that when road construction is taking place, large warning signs are placed on the sidewalk, often blocking the sidewalk entirely. The corners of these signs are right at head height. Quite dangerous. Yes, my wife walked into one. There is one on the Jackson Viaduct right now. Could someone fix this recurring problem, please? Sorry for the rant.

  8. The points made in this article are all valid. I do not hear the issue of the “mission district” discussed enough. As mentioned it is one of the first areas a visitor sees when exploring downtown. The downtown growth has to move north and there are already great things happening in Happy Holler and that area. I think that section has to be fixed in order for us to see the full potential of downtown and catch up to Chattanooga and Asheville in terms of vibrant downtown districts.

  9. I’m glad you addressed the issue in the Mission District. As a woman, I’m always afraid that I’m going to hit someone walking across the street and I’ll have to get out of my car in the madness of that spot. I’d love to see these changes take place and I love the idea of a town center. Every time I drive past the area, I see the empty shops and I always think to myself, if they’d get some cool retailers, coffee shops, what have you in those buildings, business would boom. I’m looking forward to future posts about these changes. Thanks for all you do!

  10. Perhaps someone here knows what’s going on underground at the Broadway/Western/et. al. intersection. It appears that most of the road surface is built up quite a bit over the ground level, possibly with rock rising toward the LMU site.

    Point being, why not just take bikes and pedestrians under that intersection? That could encourage foot traffic at the north end of World’s Fair/L&N, which would help the school and possibly make it viable to do something more useful with most of that site, while enhancing access from there and the Foundry to Jackson Ave., which will be increasingly important as the south side of that block fills up and things get underway at some point with the McClung Site.

    If that area is rock, then the blasting required probably isn’t worthwhile, but if it’s mostly viaduct, why not make use of the space?

    • That underneath of that intersection is already taken up with the on/off ramps to the interstate. Am I missing something?

  11. Chrissy Johnson says

    I’d like to point out that some really nice work has already begun in the “Mission District Corridor,” at the former Regas Building. The Alliance for Better Nonprofits, and a few other good organizations, currently occupy the former restaurant, which also houses a really cute coffee shop that’s open for breakfast and lunch. Seriously, go take a look. It’s lovely!
    We need more brave souls like ABN willing to invest in areas that are fledgling, and more conversations and action from the city, county, and community about the homelessness problem. It can’t be a matter of just moving the missions somewhere else. We need to tackle the root of the problem(s). The majority of homeless in this area have challenges most of us can’t even imagine and spend their days between the overpass, and the library, looking for safe havens and food. There are of course some that are threatening, like the man that encountered Urban Guy. We can’t vilify them all, but we also can’t ignore the facts.

  12. Great thoughts indeed.

    > I’m concerned about the pedestrian traffic crossing Broadway to reach Balter […] it seems like an accident waiting to happen.

    This needs to be said. It needs to be said loud, clear, frequently, and publicly, so that the city realizes that they will be in large part responsible if/when an accident occurs (and so are vulnerable to law suits).

    i know that a cross walk will be installed eventually. But will it be installed within six months, when the work there begins, or in three years when the viaduct work ends. That could be the difference maker regarding fatal accidents. Foot traffic has drastically increased there since Balter opened. I am not sure we can wait much longer for road safety.

    • Pedestrian improvements are being done by the City as part of the W Jackson streetscapes. I believe this project is going to bid before years end.

  13. Alan Cheatham says

    I attended the planning meeting last night and was so impressed with the great ideas the committee shared. All joy vanished, though, with the “no funding at this time” and “get in the queue” statements made near the end of the meeting. Many thanks to Lauren Rider for all of their work – hope to see much of the planning implemented.

  14. I really think the Missions need to be more proactive in cleaning up the area and making sure it’s safe. I do believe they have quite a bit of responsibility for that. They could actually “make” people do some sort of “task” for the food they get, such as clean up the area.

  15. Chester G. Kilgore says

    I agree that the “Mission District” is Broadway’s biggest challenge. It’s a disgrace and, although years and tens of thousands of dollars have been devoted to that immediate area, it is still awful for everyone concerned. This topic is nothing new, and it is not a good sign of our city’s intent for anything substantial to be done there (except Min-Villa) as a result of all the money and effort. Remember the “10 Year Plan To End Chronic Homelessness”? Little or nothing came from that. But, what I do not understand is that over half of this discussion prompted by Alan’s excellent article has been devoted to an area not even directly connected to the plans shown and discussed at the meeting, i.e., that Mission District. The plan in discussion right now is from Hall Of Fame north on Broadway, Why aren’t we talking more about the plan at hand? Thank you for opening the door just a crack on what happens further out Broadway (but still considered by most to be “close in downtown”). Broadway and Hall Of Fame intersection is about the same distance away from the Downtown core as is Happy Holler from Downtown core out Central – so not any further than what is covered almost daily. Thank you Alan, for going outside your normal zone out Broadway. I hope you will keep us posted.

    • Dayton Hanford says

      I also attended the meeting and talked with a friend who was deeply involved with all the proposals put forth. When I asked about “The Mission District” the reply was….”We don’t talk about that”. Earlier in the week I talked to a city council friend about the area around the missions and was informed of some well meaning but, in my opinion, misguided group of people that have formed a “Homeless Rights Group” that have some very outlandish ideas that completely ignore the rights of property and business owners, pedestrian and vehicular traffic, health and sanitary issues, litter, public safety, etc. I’m all for better and more fair treatment of homeless folks but a more safe, sane and reasonable approach needs to be done regarding “that place” NOW, not latter

  16. I work in The Regas Building, and due to the construction of the Regas Square condos in our parking lot, we will soon be forced to park under the I-40 overpass in the Mission District. I frequently get to work when it’s still dark out and leave when it’s dark, especially in the winter (no such thing as 9-5 in the nonprofit world). Many of the building tenants and I are worried about the safety of walking to our cars under the bridge (day or night). Even during daylight hours we regularly witness drug use, drug deals, prostitution (solicitation and sex acts), aggressive panhandling and catcalling, etc. There’s also trash everywhere. My intention is not at all to blame the fantastic nonprofits on that stretch of road that are doing important and meaningful work for our community’s homeless and impoverished, and I certainly have compassion for the people’s situations and their right to have a place to spend their time and have their basic needs met, but there must be something that can be done to make that area more safe to walk and drive though. Better lighting, garbage cans, more police patrolling the area…there’s no easy solution but I think more serious conversations need to be had, so thank you for highlighting this issue.

  17. I don’t want to further derail discussion of the Broadway Corridor, but respectfully, it is not at all true that “little or nothing” came from the Ten Year Plan. I know this is a complicated and contentious issue, and one that frustrates everybody — but it is important to keep it factually grounded. The Ten Year Plan had several important and lasting impacts. The first was the establishment of the Homeless Management Information System, which for the first time created a uniform system for service providers to enter individual information and track services. This has helped give everybody a clearer picture of homelessness in Knoxville and track needs and trends. (There’s a community HMIS dashboard here:

    It also led to the establishment of two permanent supportive housing locations, at Minvilla and Flenniken, which between them have 105 units to house people who were formerly homeless. Both of those were controversial and politically difficult — so much so that neighborhood opposition effectively killed efforts to find further locations — but they have both been successful.

    When the Office of the Ten Year Plan — which had been a joint City/County project — closed in 2011, the City established an Office on Homelessness within our Community Development Department. (Web page: There is more than $900,000 for homelessness issues in the 2016-17 City budget dedicated to case management, service providers, homelessness prevention and the continuation of our support for the HMIS. It is obviously true that there are still many challenges around homelessness and its consequences. But it is not true that nothing is being done or that nothing has worked. That’s the kind of rhetoric that makes it even more difficult to build and sustain support for these efforts.

    Thanks as always for the civil discussion.

    Jesse Fox Mayshark
    Director of Communications and Government Relations
    City of Knoxville
    (865) 215-3710

  18. Bill Lyons says

    I might add a bit to Jesse’s comment. First a bit of history is in order. The frustration with the situation at Fifth and Broadway at the time regarding issues associated with homelessness was so toxic that I was handed the unenviable task of pulling the neighborhood leaders, providers, businesses and others together to try to have a civil discussion and cool emotions. From that original charge I brought on Councilman Woodhull and formally convened a group including many of the most upset. We soon became the 5th and Broadway Task Force.

    We took our usual positive approach: “This is a great area with great assets. There is a solution here that turns this situation around or at least puts us on a positive trajectory.. We met multiple times at St John’s Lutheran in the heart of the district. First we had to turn the talk away from doom and gloom.. The narrative at that time was that the COK had abandoned the area. There was rampant cynicism and negativity among many who lived in nearby neighborhoods and owned businesses..

    This morphed into what became one of the most heartening experiences of my time at the City. The group struggled and argued, debated, and sometimes almost came to blows and or tears. But we kept talking through it all. Together we developed the basis of the Downtown North Redevelopment Area with the vision of a live work, more laid back area extending downtown to the North. We all met with Mayor Haslam and presented our vision and he committed to begin implementation.

    This all led to the investments in the new apartments on Central and investment in Happy Holler. From this came the vision for extending Gay street behind KARM on the east and the road diet to support the more pedestrian use of Central. St. Johns purchased and cleaned up the old “Wheel Ranch” unsightly section at the corner. The City worked with TDOT to provide free parking and to support the condo development on 5th a bit to the east. In conjunction with this approach UT College of Architecture moved to the Jewel, right next to KARM. Thanks to Tim Hill for the Investment and to UT for supporting the community’s vision.

    The whole idea is that the more people are in an area the more eyes on the street and the better the situation becomes. Or, to use one of our favorite phrases, more from disinvestment to investment. Yes there are intractable problems along Broadway from 5th to under the I40 bridge. These are tremendously difficult challenges of competing interests, Constitutional rights, public safety, etc. So let’s keep working on all the areas around the area and keep working on housing solutions and ways to get people who need help connected with the appropriate agencies. In any case we at the City are absolutely committed to the success of our key corridors and the revitalization of our city core. This approach is working by any reasonable metric. However it is a long, tough road with more than its share of setbacks.

    Thanks for the opportunity to enter this conversation.

    William Lyons
    Deputy to the Mayor and Chief Policy Officer
    City of Knoxville

    • For as long as I can remember, there has been no discernible progress in improving the situation along Broadway in the Mission District. It is simply a disgrace. Calling the problems “intractable” and suggesting that the City focus its attention elsewhere means that the problems will never be solved. The focus needs to be on the Mission District rather than away from it. If the City won’t accept responsibility, maybe someone needs to sue KARM / Volunteer Ministries, who are creating a public nuisance by attracting hordes of people and not policing the crowds.

  19. I really have little if any respect for KARM as a whole from stories I hear about them. From what I hear they heavily discriminate against LGBT people and they separate families for sleeping arrangements into a dorm-like setting.

  20. Jimmy Ryan says

    Thank you Alan for covering this even though it was outside of your coverage zone. In that line – if you cover the Happy Holler area would you consider covering Broadway up until the intersection with Woodland, as the areas are equidistant from downtown and arguably hold the same potential (as seen by the Task Force’s efforts and ETCDC’s plans)? Yes, Happy Holler is a few years ahead of Broadway, however Broadway in this area serves many more dense, pre-war neighborhoods than Happy Holler (and thus more potential readers), and I would note that more of your readers are likely from other North Knoxville neighborhoods than 4th and Gill and Old North. Many interested readers are moving into Belle Morris, North Hills, Fairmont/Emoriland, and Edgewood, as well as Oakwood and the like.

    I may just be reading into your tone, but I’d encourage you to think of that area of North Broadway as more than just a stretch that “includes liquor stores, check cashing stores, rent-to-own stores, title loan stores and more of that ilk.” For a long time people have discredited this stretch of Broadway and had the ‘no hope’ mindset that plagues other corridors like Magnolia. It’s probably easy for downtowners to think “Isn’t that cute that they want to make Broadway nice again,” but this stretch of commercial buildings has far more potential than Kingston Pike and Clinton Highway in the likes of a dense, urban-esque neighborhood feel. There are many active neighborhoods that feed into this shopping area and it could easily become a shopping and living destination – and I believe it was Stroud Watson who spoke about first creating destinations and then linking them, rather than focusing on the links prematurely. This area is a destination for shopping that can’t be done inside of downtown, so perhaps improving that first could very well change the (what you allude to be more important) areas of Broadway that are closer to downtown.

    Nonetheless, thank you for covering this meeting. Would you mind posting links to the presentation for your readers? or

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Thanks, Jimmy. As for the links, you just posted them. Thanks. I didn’t mean to imply that any part of Broadway is more important than another and I’ve never attempted to cover the areas surrounding downtown in an equal circumference. I can only cover so much and once I expand to include an area – well, you know. Anyway, as I also said the area has some very good building stock and the ready-made retail market you mention. I may try to expand my coverage as I go, but there is only so much my staff can get to. 🙂

  21. Thanks for the great article on Broadway and the excellent coverage in general. Agreed that Broadway needs major surgery. Very excited about any and all road-diets/bike lanes/pedestrian-friendly upgrades.

    I do have a concern regarding your coverage of homelessness in Knoxville. When you say things like “It [Broadway under I-40] doesn’t seem like the face we want to present,” and “I realize the issue is very complicated, but ceding a part of the city to this kind of situation isn’t the answer,” it seems to imply you would approve if the Mission District was moved. If that is not what you think, I would love to know. Improving Broadway would obviously make the Mission District a safer place for the homeless. However, if you consider moving it an option, I would strongly disagree. This area has natural shelter from the elements under the I-40 overpass, which is right next to KARM, large sidewalk and lot areas, and is short walk from public services like the Library. Moving it further away from downtown in the name of ‘beautification’ is not the answer. Also-pretty hard to make that whole I-40 overpass beautiful anyway.

    With all the development, there is already a rumor in the homeless community that KARM will move. I am hearing too much wink-wink nudge-nudge talk of how to ‘deal with’ the Mission District as downtown develops and it worries me. Am I worried over nothing? Are the homeless worried over nothing?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Thanks for your comments and questions. I don’t think any part of the city should be given over to the kinds of public behavior I described and others who have commented have described. When I say any part of the city, I’m not just talking about downtown.

      I agree I -40 through downtown is never going to be attractive and I wish it didn’t cut through downtown rendering the acres under and around it virtually unusable.

      I also don’t want the entrance to downtown to be filled with liter, human waste, the behavior I described and others have described. It doesn’t represent us well.

      It’s irrelevant to me whether a person is homeless or well-healed, I don’t want them to leave piles of liter, urinate in public and engage in extortion, drug deals and prostitution and wander into the paths of passing automobiles.

      As for the rumor, I have no idea about KARM moving. I wish we could find a home for each and every homeless person. And I wish they were all able to have a successful life. All I am saying is that the current situation isn’t safe for them and – at least for a few minutes yesterday – I wasn’t sure it was safe for me.

      Unfortunately, we all seem to be more informed as to what we don’t want than what we suggest. I admitted I don’t know the answer. I would love to hear what you suggest, if you have ideas. Or do you feel there isn’t a problem?

      • Dayton Hanford says

        Several years ago when there was a homeless service agency @ the corner of Gay and Jackson, I had the job of remodeling the dayroom on the lower level. That area was occupied during the whole time of construction allowing me to overhear many conversations that totally changed my mind about “The Homeless”. I have my doubts that the vast majority of y’all have had any more than a brief, passing association with any of the homeless, maybe some of you have in perhaps the social worker, more clinical setting. I had 4 months of “Education” learning too many things to cover in this reply although I’ll touch on a few more glaring issues. First, and to me the most important, is to identify and attend the newly homeless, be they individuals or families. You’ve seen them pushing shopping carts full of or carrying whats left of their belongings in garbage bags. Most of the time they’ll be robbed of all that by nightfall. They would be the most likely to be helped before they become entrenched in the homeless lifestyle. Most of you know that during Reagans unfortunate term as president, one of the more disastrous policies was “Mainstreaming” the mentally ill, or more truthfully, putting them out on the streets with no help for them, the public, the education system, police education, on & on. These poor folks were preyed upon by the not so homeless predators who have them mug people for 1/4 of the money taken, prostituted out to only recieve “protection”, treated as slaves for their “protectors” or beaten for not complying and worse. Having some background in mental health I can say with no hesitation that most of these folks need to be institutionalized and not on the streets for their and the publics safety. These predators, again my opinion, need to be composted and returned to the dirt they arose from. The rest should be evaluated as to the practicality of their return to society. Those deemed helpable should receive all the help available while the rest need a safe and healthy place to stay and be taken care of so that they do not endanger the rest of us. It may cost a lot but not nearly as much as the hidden cost of the theft, destruction, policing, court costs, emergency room visits, commercial viability, well you know the rest. Disagree if you must, but perhaps real life experience will teach you more than arm chair quarterbacking from your comfy living room……

    • In the wise words of Patrick Star. Why don’t we “take our problems, and push them somewhere else”? Allowing the city and other interested parties to help the homeless without enabling panhandling of the borderline violent scale many of us see in the center city? I would like to see the mission district move about 5-6 miles down Asheville highway personally

    • The problem is that Knoxville as a whole creates an environment that encourages homeless people to move to Knoxville and prey on its citizens by harassing then for cash in Market Square. They then tell more homeless or drug addicts about how easy it is here to take advantage of the good nature of people and this stretches the outreach organizations resources to the point they have very little success in helping people who need and want help and want to actually get off the streets. Our police need to aggressively handle panhandling with zero tolerance.

  22. Most of my thoughts have been stated already, but I thought I’d go ahead and comment anyhow.

    First, the strategy of strengthening a downtown core and working outward seems to be prudent. Tourists and potential businesses are going to see the strong core before they head a mile or two out Broadway. Beautifying a stretch of Broadway that houses less than desirable businesses is not going to make our city a better place, no offense meant. There are many issues from Jackson to Hall of Fame—a stretch that can house local businesses and become a vibrant, walkable area– that need to be addressed before we begin addressing the strip malls and sprawl outward from there. When I moved here a few years ago, I couldn’t help but be upset by the unfulfilled potential of the area surrounding Broadway and Central. Areas like that need focus before strip malls.

    The Mission District is an issue and needs to be addressed. No easy answers, but maybe we can look to larger cities to see how they handle these areas. I’ve lived in two major cities and have never seen the homeless problems that Knoxville has…there are better ways. As others have said, I work in that area and see the consequences of KARM every day. Prostitution on every block, rampant drug use, people passed out on doorsteps, belligerent yelling at passers-by, etc. Its a less than desirable area to be in, and a solution needs to be found. (That solution does not necessarily need to be moving the homeless elsewhere, but maybe a strategy apart from the one currently held by KARM would be helpful).

    This city has a long way to go before we catch up with our neighbors (namely Chattanooga and Asheville). Our downtown is becoming a nice city, with local businesses and a vibrant feel. We need to continue focusing our efforts on areas that will add to that feeling. That focus should be on areas with walkable infrastructures that are integrated into neighborhoods. The area north of Hall of Fame doesn’t meet those requirements in my opinion.

    • This guy really has a handle on the problem-the disjoined environment on Broadway from the Shopping Center to Stem. And the huge social problem around the I-40 overpass that is a lot more acute than any faced in South, West or even East Knoxville. This must change

  23. I honestly don’t see how Asheville’s downtown is superior to Knoxville. Maybe 5 years ago this was true, but Knoxville’s attractions, walkability, and uniqueness has surpassed them for at least two years.

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