Details of New Ground-Up Condominium and Commercial Development Announced

Rendering of the Mews, Phase II, Magnolia Avenue View

The Courtland Group, headed by Jeffrey Nash, has established an excellent track record with numerous redevelopments of older buildings. Nash began his career reclaiming and redeveloping warehouses and factories in east London, but moved to Knoxville nearly twenty years ago and has steadily built an impressive portfolio of redeveloped buildings here.

Best known, perhaps for reviving the building and opening the business that is the Crown and Goose, he’s also developed properties such as Keystone Place and most recently, the beautiful building housing the Patricia Nash Showroom on 6th Avenue. He’s currently restoring and improving the Hubris Building on the 100 block of Gay Street.

Arguably, his crown jewel to this point is the work he did on Magnolia, bringing back two severely run-down buildings and converting them into the headquarters for Hedstrom Design and for his Mews Condominium project. The ten units built in 2015 immediately sold and Nash describes it as one of the fastest sell-outs of a condominium project in Knoxville.

Future Site of Mews II, Corner of Ogden and Magnolia, Knoxville, October 2017

Future Site of Mews II, Corner of Ogden and Magnolia, Knoxville, October 2017

Future Site of Mews II, Corner of Ogden and Magnolia, Knoxville, October 2017

Until now the projects have all involved bringing new vitality to older buildings. Nash says in some respects that’s easier: the building dictates what may be done and the creativity involved is in getting the most from a static structure. As he moves into the second phase of the Mews (Mews II), that has all changed. He will soon begin ground-up construction on the corner lot which once included Marie’s Tavern.

Just across Ogden Street from The Mews, phase one, the new site presents some challenges which become immediately clear. Like many lots in Knoxville, this one includes a significant drop-off in elevation from front to back. Massive power poles and transformers sit on the site and, most conspicuously, a massive two-surface billboard sits in the middle of the lot. It might seem impossible.

The Mews, Across Ogden from the new development, Knoxville, October 2017

Nash admits it has been a challenge to make the entrances from Ogden ADA compliant while accounting for the serious slope has been difficult. He’s working with the city to have the power poles and transformers buried. But then there’s that massive pole in the middle of the plot. Significant engineering resources have been brought to bear to determine how to build the new construction around the sign (which can’t be removed), hiding the pole, leaving it structurally sound and allowing the billboards to be seen from the Interstate which is, of course, why they are there.

Mews II, when completed will include 20 condos and 5,000 square feet of commercial space fronting Magnolia. The commercial space will be flexible and may represent two, three or four separate spaces depending on demand. The new businesses will join other successful business on that block of Magnolia.

Hedstrom Design, Magnolia and Ogden, Knoxville, October 2017

The Mews, Magnolia Avenue (between Central and Ogden), Knoxville, October 2017

Tennessee Valley Bikes has been on the block the longest, occupying a couple of different locations there for the last ten years. Public House sits at 212 W. Magnolia and the newest entry on the block, Magnolia Records next door is the most recent entrant on the block, having opened last spring.

The condos will trend toward the lower end of the downtown spectrum in price. One bedroom units will sell for around $200,000, while two bedroom units will range from under $240,000 to around $300,000. One two-story, three bedroom unit will be available at around $460,000. A courtyard is planned for the back side of the development, and each unit will have private balconies either overlooking Ogden Street or the courtyard.

Plans for the building have been approved and reviewed. The bidding process is underway and the estimated delivery time is about eighteen months. It promises, along with the first phase of the project and the looming addition of Regas Square to make that section of Gay Street, Depot and Magnolia a lively residential and commercial center for downtown.

Rendering of the Mews, Phase Two, Ogden Street View

More of the company’s attention will shift in that direction very soon as the components of the Hubris Building project announced here last fall reach completion. The upstairs units in that project should be completed by early next year and the town homes should be completed in the next month, with the entire building set to be completed by the middle of next year.

Of course, there are other projects lined up, but we’ll save that for another day.

Comments

  1. Interesting development, but I can’t imagine living in a space wrapped around that hideous monster sign. Call me a dreamer, but if we could only get that interstate highway viaduct moved… There is no reason why the superhighway should not have been routed around the other side of Sharp’s Ridge. Then, perhaps Lamar would sell! Change that drastic and forward looking is not happening, obviously.

    Thanks to Mr. Nash for making the best of this difficult situation.

  2. There is so much good news here lately! I’m so excited to see all the development downtown, particularly in this area. Downtown North has its own kind of charm that’s hard to replicate

  3. Oren Yarbrough says:

    I applaud the architects and Jeffrey Nash for pushing forward with design on a complicated site that most people would over look or walk away from. It’s a shame Lamar Advertising refused to sell the land for the billboard. Sadly, the reason why the sale of this land was probably refused by Lamar Ad was because of the previous Tennessee Billboard Act. The Law, only recently deemed unconstitutional on grounds of freedom of speech, barred billboards from being built within 660ft of any federally aided highway or interstate. Purchase and design of this project was probably well under way by the time the Memphis judge struck it down in April (I can only guess). The law was part of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965. Many billboards across the US violate this act but are grandfathered in with little push back unless a local government intervenes. Lamar didn’t want to sell this property because it (just from my estimate) lies within the 660ft that normally would remove it’s existence…it’s a rare unicorn in the billboard world you could say.
    Now that this law is deemed unconstitutional there is a weird grey area where billboards can go wherever they want, as mentioned in a May issue of the Mercury by Joe Sullivan. Now our state legislature must amend the law to let it reinstate the old ban while not being deemed a hindrance to freedom of speech, something like other states like Texas have already begun. So technically Lamar and Nash could use this period of lawless time to maybe look into how this billboard may be moved to make both parties happy without fear of the billboard owner losing their valuable asset because of the old law. Also, it appears based on the 3D images, but again this is just a guess, that the billboard will remain in place only using air rights. If this is the case then that means Nash worked with Lamar to build his building and then place the billboard on top of it, honoring the ownership of the air rights for Lamar.
    Just an interesting hypothesis and side story about the immovable billboard of Magnolia avenue. I have a mixed relationship with billboards since some iconic advertisements as murals can be quite attractive. It’s when billboards begin to impede the overall aesthetic of a city I take some offense and want them regulated.

  4. Julianna Texada says:

    Congrats, Jeffrey!

  5. Sean Martin says:

    It’s exciting to see more medium & small scale infill developments being proposed and built (I’m thinking of the Crozier, the Mews, and 107 Commerce, in addition to this project). There’s certainly room in the Knoxville development scene for huge projects like Marble Alley and the Stockyard, but I think the smaller scale projects really bring the variety and fine-grained scale that make streets interesting and attractive for pedestrians.

    Parts of Gay Street exemplify this – the buildings weren’t developed all at once by one developer; instead different developers and architects contributed, working in many different styles and with a variety of materials. That makes the street complex and interesting in a way that is hard to replicate when a new project fills up an entire block. I’m happy to see new developments start to follow this older pattern.

    Speaking of design, do you know who was the architect or designer on this project?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Good question. I usually ask, but this one got past me. Design was a collaborative effort between the Courtland Group and R2R.

  6. Maybe you’ve covered it, but what is happening with the building on the corner of Worlds Fair Park Drive and Broadway?

  7. Michael Holden says:

    Did I read that correctly? The billboard cannot be removed? Please elaborate. Is that an ownership issue or a law issue?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      My understanding – and honestly I didn’t get into the details as much as I should – was that ownership or rights to the sign was not assigned with the remainder of the property.

      • Billboard owners buy tiny slivers of available land up and down the interstate for billboards. We have had that problem in the past along the interstate in our neighborhood. I’m not sure why they are so sacred to the point that Nash can’t simply buy the land. There must be some kind of weird property rights going on.

        • It’s way past time for Knoxville to condemn and/or buyout all the billboards that blight our streets and highways.

          • Blight eh? Every decent sized city in America has billboards throughout their city. In case you missed it, advertising is paramount to many businesses success. I am also aware that billboard companies are very active helping build awareness and supporting many charities and organizations around our area. While I understand your angst with this billboard, to say that all billboards are “blight” is ridiculous!

          • Bollocks. Billboards are a cancer on aesthetics. No one, save the companies leasing the boards, would miss them.

          • Bill Foster says:

            No, every city in America doesn’t have billboards. They are illegal in most of the northeast and everything is much more beautiful for it

    • Chris Eaker says:

      It’s so strange that they couldn’t figure out how to mount the billboards to the roof and get rid of the pole.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      I’ve asked for clarification and had my suspicion confirmed: The sliver of land the billboard sits on is owned by Lamar Advertising. They refused to sell. This required massive creativity to make this project work and insure the integrity of both the building and the sign, which is very heavy.

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