Stockyard Lofts: Major New Construction Announced for the Old City

Willow Avenue Elevation, Stockyard Lofts, Knoxville, July 2017

A shift has happened in downtown development. Whereas for years we enjoyed a renaissance of older buildings converted to new, often residential, uses, we’re now firmly in an era of ground-up construction. One such development is complete, four are under construction and a couple of others have been announced. Joining that list today is Stockyard Lofts on Willow Avenue, between the Crozier (currently under construction) and James White Parkway.

The unusually shaped parcel is bounded by Willow, James White Parkway, the rear of the buildings along east Central and Jackson Avenue where a sliver extends out beside Barley’s. It is part surface parking and part Old City Stage area. Extending six stories and using as much of the parcel as is practically possible, plans include 5,000 square feet of retail space along Willow, 152 apartments and 185 on site parking spaces.

First through Fifth Floor Plans, Stockyard Lofts, Willow Avenue, Knoxville, July 2017

Named as a tip of the hat to stockyard and meat-packing businesses inhabiting the area a century ago, the project is a co-development with Leigh Burch of Terminus Real Estate and Daniel Smith with Legacy Capital. Leigh was an early downtown developer, beginning work about twenty years ago, with projects such as the Sterchi and Lerner Lofts to his credit. Daniel and Legacy Capital are developing the Crozier, adjacent to this project, and Leigh owns the property and the stretch of buildings along the south side of Jackson that bounds part of the property.

Likely adding around 250 people to the Old City, the project represents a significant shift of downtown population toward that part of town. Additionally, the residences and retail space extend the face of the Old City to the east toward what most feel will be the next large development surge for downtown – to the east of James White Parkway.

Apartment Floor Plans for Stockyard Lofts, Willow Avenue, Knoxville, July 2017

Apartment Floor Plans for Stockyard Lofts, Willow Avenue, Knoxville, July 2017

Apartment Floor Plans for Stockyard Lofts, Willow Avenue, Knoxville, July 2017

The project, made difficult by the configuration of its location, has been in planning for nearly a year. The architectural firm of Humphrey’s and Partners of Dallas, developed the plans. The developers are dedicated to fully utilizing the space, offering housing at as low a price-point as possible and to contributing to the betterment of the Old City.

The inclusion of primarily enclosed parking – even though the shape of the plot prevents the use of a lower cost pre-cast garage structure – was intended, for example, to avoid putting greater pressure on limited Old City parking. Additionally, the group plans to share the alley behind the Central Street buildings for garbage pickup and for the location of a grease trap. Access to a large grease interceptor will enable those buildings to have full scale restaurants if the owners choose to do so in the future.

Ground and First Floor Plans, Stockyard Lofts, Willow Avenue, Knoxville, July 2017

Basement Floor and Ground Floor Garages, Stockyard Lofts, Willow Avenue, Knoxville, July 2017

Access to the two levels of the garage will be via a new alley off Willow on the east side of the building and through the parking lot between Barley’s and the Knoxville Music History Mural. Surface parking between the two buildings will be maintained. The primary entrance to the development will be via Jackson, with the lobby facing that side.

The facade will include cast stone along with three stories of brick from the street level. The external walls of the top two floors will be wood colored fiber cement board with aluminum panel accents. Eighty percent of the units will be one bedroom and eight different configurations are included, again, due to the odd shape of the lot. Sizes will range from about 600 square feet up to over 1250 square feet.

James White Parkway Elevation, Stockyard Lofts, Knoxville, July 2017

In addition to private, mostly covered, parking, the project will include other amenities such as a swimming pool, club room and fitness center. While the retail space might be used in other ways, sitting on the corner of the building with a courtyard (recently included in a shift in plans), a restaurant seems likely to fill the space.

As currently designed, total investment will likely be around $28,000,000. The developers are requesting a PILOT from the city and further movement is pending the city’s response. They hope to begin construction in early 2018 with an estimated completion date of summer 2019. Total construction time is anticipated to be about sixteen months.


  1. Wow! That looks amazing

  2. How about a feature on the new photo banners on the Dwight Kessel? Great work by visit Knoxville

  3. I’m glad to see new development downtown, but I’m curious about why a Dallas firm is appropriate, especially since the developers are longterm Knoxville folks.

    • Different perspectives bring a greater variety of architecture.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      In an unusual move, they had three architectural firms look at the site to determine what they thought would work there. As I understand it, this was the firm they thought came the closest to accomplishing their objectives for the spot.

  4. Michelle says

    Exciting! Curious what the prices will be for the units and what retail will come to the area. Love to see that part of town utilized more.

    • Someone in this response thread quoted market rent at $1.70 per sf, or $1700/mo for a 1000 sq ft apartment. That’s pretty much where the market is downtown at the moment.

      • And this is what I was getting at Alan and Scott, with new zoning laws (recodeknoxville AKA agenda21), and from what I have read so far, and my understanding, new buildings like this will have to include a portion to be “sustainable” and “affordable housing,” or they will not get permits. 1700/mo is not affordable housing. See,, now look at all of the shootings in KCDC controlled housing. I do not know what the final zoning laws will be. The new meeting will be July 19 to learn more, but time is running out for input. I believe the new rezoning will just be pushed through.

        • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

          I think you are getting a couple of things crossed, friend. The article you link above was about a shortage of affordable housing, but has nothing to do with the new zoning codes.

        • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

          I’m going to take a little stab at parts of this. Recode Knoxville is an effort by the city to update building codes which were written in the 1960s and make mixed use development more difficult whereas we now want more of it. Agenda21 is a non-binding UN resolution which has nothing to do with our codes. It is not “AKA.” There is nothing in the new codes about one bedroom units or “affordable housing.” The Mercury article linked here *is* about affordable housing and why it is in short supply, but it has nothing to do with proposed new codes nor with this new development which, while attempting to keep some units at a lower price point than some recent downtown housing, is not intended at all to be subsidized housing. I hope that straightens some of that out.

          • Agenda 21? Oh, you’re one of those people…

          • Matt, I KNOW!! Don’t worry. I am putting together a video of easy to interpret facts and sources. I did not know it was a thing until I started reading and some of the buzzwords that were used. Also how the survey was done. It’s a bit creepy. I know. I don’t think a professional survey should be made by a 5th grader to point someone at only one answer. Who doesn’t want sustainability. Aside from that, listen to some of the other comments here on how negatively think this one project is. As long as my property rights are not trampled on then I’m good with whatever.

  5. Pro-Tip: If you’re concerned with “offering housing at as low a price-point as possible” maybe skip the two story clubhouse and swimming pool; maximize your high ROI street frontage retail, and limit parking to at most one space per unit…ideally more like 1/2-3/4 space per unit.

    If we’re subsidizing development through TIFs and PILOTs, developers should be required to reduce parking by including dedicated car share spaces and secure bike parking. At the very least, those dedicated on-site parking garages should be designed to allow conversion into residential or commercial space in the future, as it appears the architects have done in this case.

    • It is worth clarifying that the project will lease at market rents ($1.7 PSF). However, around 10 of the 152 units will rent at a price point that is more on par with new suburban apartments ($1.2 PSF).

    • The apartments will likely rent for more per square foot then the retail space, especially considering the number of vacant storefronts already in the Old City.

      • I could just be assuming and totally wrong, but I feel the main reason most of the storefronts on Jackson near the ramps are not getting any tenants due to the impending three years of construction on the viaduct and the ramps, not necessarily because the Old City is a bad place to do business, it’ll just be hard to get to for a while. Can’t have an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

    • To clarify, my statement regarding the ROI on retail was intended to reference the broader ROI on commercial space, not simply rental income for the owner/developer from those specific spaces. Restaurants/bars and retail drive residential demand, thereby decreasing vacancy rates and increasing the net ROI on the project. More over, commercial uses bring in far more tax income for the city, thereby increasing the city’s ROI on the PILOT/TIF.

  6. I believe any new rezoning laws would not allow this project because of the one bedrooms. Does anyone know?

  7. It looks like East Berlin housing during the Cold War. Even Nashville would reject this design.

  8. Oren Yarbrough says

    Humphrey’s & Partners was chosen to do this project because of their experience with multi-unit housing. The site is complex and required some wiggling to get the volume of units needed to afford the project. It is sad to see a non-native firm working on such a high profile project, but I understand why. The big thing I would like to know is how the city will regulate the exterior appearance of the apartments in such a distinct neighborhood. I would personally prefer if the building was given the illusion of being broken up into smaller row like structures to fit in with the rest of the Old City. I am not suggesting the buildings be made to look fake historic, but maybe the physical volumes at least try to fit in with the surrounding architecture?

  9. I think the building looks fine. The brick, stone and metal seems to fit the neighborhood.

    It will be interesting to see how well that much retail space does on Willow, considering that buildings on Jackson Ave are struggling to find businesses to fill existing storefronts. Let’s hope our local entrepreneurs come up with creative ideas for all of these spaces.

    • I think Willow would be easier to find tenants for the retail/restaurant spaces because it’s farther away from the viaduct and ramps that are going to be replaced than those vacant storefronts.

  10. Oren Yarbrough says

    It is worth noting that it’s always good to see a parking lot developed into residential and commercial space. I think having the retail component is essential to this design and look forward to seeing it completed. I do hope the design will be massaged some to fit in with the aesthetic of the Old City before construction begins. Now if the empty lot across Willow could be developed then the Old City may start to feel connected to the rest of downtown via Central St.

  11. tthurman says

    That general area has incredible potential. When the rumors started flying about the Smokies coming back to town were quieted last fall, there was no doubt that something is still going to happen here. Seeing how it all plays out will be interesting.

  12. Have to say, this area is not what I consider “Old City.” But maybe when it gets cleaned up it will be ok. Right now, I wouldn’t go there, much less live there.

    • lol…across the street from Crown and Goose, behind Barleys, and behind the soon-to-be Crozier building isn’t the Old City? You’re talking about something that is literally a 30 second walk from Crown and Goose.

  13. “Access to the garage…through the parking lot between Barley’s and the Knoxville Music History Mural. The primary entrance to the development will be via Jackson, with the lobby facing that side.” From this statement and the drawings, I’m wondering whether there’s enough street width along E. Jackson to handle vehicles turning into & out of that space between Barley’s and the mural wall.

    At least that immediate stretch of E. Jackson is already No Parking, so that’ll help matters. Maybe deliveries, moving trucks, etc, will enter from Willow Avenue.

  14. Hideous. It will be torn down in 40 years, hopefully sooner.

  15. Looks like it belongs at a mall, not downtown Knoxville.

  16. I’m glad to see some new, modern architecture being built downtown. I’ve wondered for the past decade why Knoxville has no modern/trendy new architecture, as many other mid sized cities have built. (Look at Greenville & Columbia SC, Chattanooga’s Northshore area, East Nashville, etc). I’m talking about the edgy, modern type apartments, condos, offices, etc. that you see all over in cities like Austin. I know Knoxville isn’t known for being edgy or a leader, but almost every city this size has these types of new developments. Also, like it or not, this type of look is popular with millenials & younger, inner city workers & residents. So hopefully, we’ll see some more of these types of development & try & catch up a bit to be in step with what everyone else our size has been doing for the last decade.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.