Supreme Court Site Proposal Advances

Dover Development Proposal for the Supreme Court Site

The city of Knoxville sent out a request for proposals for redevelopment of the Supreme Court Site, received four, and has selected one to move forward. The selection process was held outside public purview in order to allow negotiations to be conducted with each applicant independently. The proposal by Rick Dover and Dover Development, in conjunction with other agencies was selected. It’s another step in developing the city block bounded by Locust, Cumberland, Henley and Church which includes the old Supreme Court building on one corner and a surface parking lot on the remainder.

The three proposals not selected:

The Henley, BNA Associates, Proposal for the Former Supreme Court Site

A proposal by BNA, with principals Ethan Orley and Phillip Welker, developers of the Oliver Hotel, would have placed “The Henley” on the site. The Supreme Court Building would have been preserved and the mixed-use development would have included, “15,000 square feet of retail along Henley Street, 4,300 square feet of retail on Locust Street, 168 apartments , and a 299-car parking garage.” (Full Proposal Here)

Commercial Investment Proposal for the Supreme Court Site

Commercial and Investment Properties with principals of the Cazana family, currently developing The Tennessean would have provided, “70 luxury apartment residences, 100,000 square feet of modern retail and office space, 425 parking spaces, Street-level retail spaces along Locust Street, and restaurant space with outdoor seating at the corner of Locust Street and Church Avenue.” It would have emphasized commercial office space. As proposed, it would have been a ten-story building. (Full Proposal Here)

Marble Alley Proposal for the Supreme Court Site

Marble Alley Development proposed, “a five story, mixed use development project that will include 150 residential units and approximately 30,000 square feet of educational use.” The ground-floor along Church would have been “live/work” spaces and 2500 square feet of retail would be included at the corner of Church and Henley. It would have included 185 parking spaces in a below-grade parking garage and a STEM center to be used by local middle and high schools, as well as the public library. (Full Proposal Here)

The proposal selected to move forward was a proposal by Dover Development, Rick Dover principal (Full Proposal Here). They have proposed, “the existing Supreme Court Building at the site’s southeast corner will remain and be repurposed as a restaurant.” A dog daycare will be included at the basement level. The tower portion of the building, “will be demolished along with the rear bays.” An eight story Aloft hotel is proposed fronting Henley Street. A “residential component is comprised of five stories above the cast-in-place podium construction of parking and ground-level retail space.”

Dover Development Proposal for the Supreme Court Site

Dover Development Proposal for the Supreme Court Site

Dover Development Proposal for the Supreme Court Site

The project includes 218,400 square feet of residential space, 6,000 square feet of retail, 99,200 square feet for the hotel, 7,000 square feet for a restaurant and 7,000 square feet for the dog daycare. The interior 492 space parking garage will service the hotel, residents and restaurant customers. Residential units would be apartments and the height of the building would vary from one to eleven stories, with the bottom being the current Supreme Court Building and the highest being the hotel. Including parking, the project will total over a half million square feet.

The over 200 apartments included will range from studio apartments to two bedrooms. The upscale units will target professionals. The hotel is projected to provide 90 jobs with a $1 million+ payroll. The apartments are projected to provide seven permanent jobs worth about $370,000. Additional jobs should be provided by the retail space and restaurant. They are offering $2.6 million for the site.

Dover Development Proposal for the Supreme Court Site

Dover Development Proposal for the Supreme Court Site

The Aloft Hotel would be a 170 room hotel managed by White Lodging. 230 apartments would be included in that portion of the development and the restaurant in the previous court chambers would be, “conceived and operated by Randy Burleson of Aubrey’s, Sunspot, Bistro by the Tracks and other. Also proposed is a “bike-share and tourist information center to be operated by Legacy Parks, who will be provided space at no cost by the developers.”

The pet day care would be operated by Petsafe and would include space in the basement, but also outdoor facilities on the roof of the building. Also included would be, “up to 8,000 square feet of flexible meeting space that can be reserved and used by anyone.” The developer, “anticipate(s) putting solar farms on the roof of all of our buildings and possibly the parking.”

On the city’s evaluation rubric, the Dover proposal scored 102 points out of a possible 110 in four categories: Consistency with Stated Mixed Use Vision, Financial Capacity and Business Plan, Qualifications and Experience and Goals for Sustainability. The second-place proposal, that by Commercial and Investment Properties scored a 92. (Full Evaluation Here)

The next step is a council workshop this Thursday at 5:30 PM, with the development agreement to be on the agenda for the April 25 City Council meeting. The schedule for completion, depending on prompt approval from City Council, would be late 2019.


  1. Great news about the proposal! But since I don’t see it in here what local businesses are going to be affected since it is a Dover project? How many mom and pop restaurants are going to be offered the paltry sum of $22,000 to pack up and leave?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      There are no businesses – local or otherwise – on this full city block.

      • I’m shocked. I figured since Rick has such a passion for insultingly trying to drive out local businesses something negatively would be affected. Only a matter of time I suppose. Just figured I’d remind people this is the kind of crap he pulls since the French market deleted all their social media posts about the issue.

        • I know that Dover development has done a number of projects in and around downtown but wasn’t aware that there was a history of displacing small businesses. I would be shocked if that was the case. I am glad the French market has found a new home. It’s very difficult for any commercial entity to thrive in an OSHA regulated environment.
          I hope Rick Dover’s passion for historic preservation will continue to save some of our cities treasures from the wrecking ball.

          • He literally offered the owners $22,000 to close their business when he originally told the public that the French Market would stay and possibly expand. He’s just downright a terrible person. I work at a clothing store full time and barely even make $22,000 a year. And he wanted to offer a tremendous business that was one of the pioneers of downtown’s renaissance that had been downtown almost 10 years that pitiful amount to pack up their entire business and leave. I imagine some decent bargain was reached considering the French Market won the battle and is opening up in a bigger location that can serve more food, but I hope the stain shall forever remain on Dover’s name for trying something so despicable. PS he’s also a convicted felon.

  2. It’s surprising that Dover scored well in a category that includes the ability to complete projects. The judges must be very lenient.

    His track record is easy to make fun of, although I suppose that someday the Farragut Hotel, Knoxville high school or Pryor Brown may actually be finished. Someday far in the future …

  3. Oren Yarbrough says

    It should be noted that Rick Dover is partnered with another major development company on this project. Bristol Development Group is responsible for some of the apartments in the Gulch in Nashville and they bring an outstanding level of experience to the table.

  4. Design Critic says

    Realizing that there are numerous factors in these decisions, and that there are circumstances that we’re all unaware of regarding the ‘ins and outs’ of each proposal, my purely design-related reaction is that the Dover concept is nauseously bland and uninspiring.

    I have no affiliation with any of the teams in any capacity or anyone on the selection committee, so can thankfully comment on the proposals from an unbiased view. My main concern is that the design seems to replicate the other ‘place-less’ designs of recent downtown new construction, most notably the Baptist Hospital Site and Marble Alley, however also Regas Square – which shares the same designer as Dover’s development. These properties looks like they could be located in any mid-sized city across the United States (including Nashville), and it’s unfortunate that while Knoxville has waited decades for new downtown construction to become economically feasible, they choose (if not allow) watered down designs that are identical to numerous other suburban apartment complexes and hotels.

    Maybe it’s DIA’s flat rendering style, but at least the Commercial Investment Proposal seems to activate the street level with appropriately scaled glass masses, canopies, and urban courtyards. Additionally, the strongest part of the Henley Center’s design was that it attempted to mitigate the most inhibiting aspect of the poorly planned Knoxville Convention Center – the lack of adequate, adjacent parking. The Henley Center also attempted to activate Henley Street with a place-creating plaza and stepped-back masses, and above all else – even if the design was arguably ‘bland’ to some folks – it was a development that had an identity.

    Meanwhile, identity is the main characteristic Dover’s development lacks. I realize a main factor in the grading process was likely the reuse of the Supreme Court Building, however if this was a driving factor to choose Dover’s cookie-cutter design, perhaps the review committee was short sighted – or they could have encouraged Cazana’s team to revisit this qualification. I would encourage the City Council workshop to press, if not demand, the chosen design team to push the development in a more exciting, urban-appropriate direction – with an urban identity unique to Knoxville – and to look past other bland new construction in our downtown and Nashville (as in the place-less development that is now the Gulch).

    UrbanGuy- is there an opportunity for the public to comment/critique the design at the City Council workshop – or is this a closed event?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      The City Council Workshop is a public event, though the public rarely attends them.

    • It is very cookie cutter but it’s the design of the times. In 50 years people will think it’s “retro” and love it. Personally I like the design, the problem is that I (and I’m sure most people who are aware of the issue) resent the developer.

  5. I liked the Henley better, it was taller. Still waiting for that new tower here.

  6. A bit bland, but certainly better than what could have happened (Marble Alley aka shoddy overpriced apartments version 2.0 would have been an unmitigated disaster). I’m glad to see the variety of use, albeit I’m still waiting for a bit more of the old “essentials” to be incorporated into a downtown building (how about a trader joes or other “real” grocery store? The market isn’t cutting it).

  7. Does anyone know where this stands. Is it going to be built or is it just another Knoxville head game? I’m tired of proposals going no where in Knoxville. Pedestrian bridge, towers, etc.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      The idea is still alive. There is a next step within the next couple of weeks as it works through the process. There are projects that ultimately do not happen, but I think you’d have to agree, there have been dozens and dozens around downtown that did ultimately happen, from the smallest (murals?) to ground up construction like Riverwalk at the Bridges, the new Hilton hotels, Regas Sqaure, the Crozier and Marble Alley, to major projects like the Farragut.

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