The Press Room Set to Open in the DeWine Building

Press Room Rendering

I don’t remember when a building has generated so many inquiries from readers before an article was posted. Sitting at the corner of Lamar and Broadway, just across the street and down a bit from Elkmont Exchange, it’s a prominent location which has seen intense interest from developers in recent months. It also may simply be that the striking building shows so much potential for development.

In any case, I was pleased to hear from Kaley Hyatt, Director of Events and Catering for Cafe 4, The Square Room and for the umbrella management company, Spaces in the City. She told me, “We started Spaces in the City about two years ago, when we had maxed out our current event capabilities in The Square Room. Now, two years later, we are getting ready to open our newest venue, The Press Room.”

DeWine Building Prior to Current Renovation, 730 North Broadway, Knoxville, February 2018

DeWine Building Prior to Current Renovation, 730 North Broadway, Knoxville, February 2018

DeWine Building Prior to Current Renovation, 730 North Broadway, Knoxville, February 2018

I met Kaley, along with Lori Klonaris (co-owner of Cafe Four, Spaces in the City and the Press Room along with her husband Jim) for a look around the building and nascent event center. As you can see from the before photographs, it has come a long way. While still under construction, the space is nearing completion and with a first booking already set for March 3 and a grand opening March 9, the final touches will happen quickly.

In addition to an attractive facade, the building and its adjacent extension offers a flexible entertainment and event space with multiple configurations for a range of possible uses. The main floor is around 10,000 square feet – similar to the Mill and Mine. The steel span construction allows for uninterrupted sight lines and makes the building more attractive for events. The space can accommodate a 600 seat dinner (or 450 with a dance floor). A thousand lights (see the night photograph) illuminate the original ceiling of the main space making for a magical ambiance.

There are also more intimate spaces built into the larger project. A small, private loft suspended above the main floor not only offers the best views of the venue, but can also host smaller events such as corporate dinners and can accommodate up to 50 people. A small outdoor courtyard may also be booked for events.

Exterior of the Press Room Under Construction, 730 North Broadway, Knoxville, February 2018

Exterior of the Press Room Under Construction, 730 North Broadway, Knoxville, February 2018

A full commercial kitchen will be used for the catering business and for catering events on site. The kitchen also includes a double door for loading catering vans. A fully stocked bar is also located in a side space and is available for events. A private bridal suite with built-in make up tables makes the venue an easy location for a wedding and the reception afterward.

The space wasn’t so attractive when the couple made their initial purchase. The interior was divided into four sections by cinder block and was full to the drop ceiling with accumulated junk. Once the junk was removed and two drop ceilings were taken out, the barrel ceiling was exposed, the two realized the potential hidden in the building.

Interior of the Press Room, 730 North Broadway, Knoxville, February 2018

Interior of the Press Room, 730 North Broadway, Knoxville, February 2018

Interior of the Press Room, 730 North Broadway, Knoxville, February 2018

Originally purchasing the building for an off-site kitchen and planning to use the remaining space as a storage facility, the couple realized the building could be much more. The cool extension, designed by Sanders Pace, once a blue building covered in graffiti, is also coming to life with a new facade, a courtyard facing Lamar, which will be tree-lined and beautifully landscaped.

The history of the building is not completely known, but the inscription on the front, “DeWine Building, July 1, 1925,” yields some clues. I spoke to Jack Neely of the Knoxville History Project, who said he hadn’t researched the building, but said,

The Dewine name is especially interesting. It was an Irish Catholic family, the best-known member of which was Daniel Dewine, who was a partner with Patrick Sullivan in the latter days of that saloon. He also ran a brewpub–“Dan and Pat’s”–near what’s now Willow, notable for the fact that it had a trap door that opened directly into First Creek. Useful for cleaning up after fights.

Years later, Dewine used his saloon earnings to buy land, and used that land to help establish St. Mary’s Hospital, named sort of in honor of his daughter, who had died young. He was old and retired by 1925, so I suspect that building was associated with a younger relative.

Lori Klonaris said she understands that possibly Knoxville’s first bowling alley was located in the space, which was also a car dealership at one point. More recently, it was a print shop, Knoxville Printers, hence the name, Press Room, for the new venture.

Lights in the Press Room Under Construction, 730 North Broadway, Knoxville, February 2018

In addition to the full kitchen in the basement, a warming kitchen is located upstairs, but out-of-sight of the venue and is designed for ease of service. Plans include a small patio to the rear of the building, as well as the Printer’s Lounge area around the bar – a spot that could also be booked for smaller events. The front and rear of the building can be opened to allow flow from the rear patio, through the lounge and out to the front courtyard. A mixologist will be on staff and personalized cocktails for the bride and groom will be offered as a special service. Beer will also be offered on tap for events.

Press Room Rendering

Brownlee Construction is handling the build-out and Sanders Pace Architecture did the design work. Justin Paulk is doing his cement magic for sinks and counter-tops. The public is invited to the March 9 Grand Opening to check out the space. If you are interested in booking an event, contact them via the Spaces in the City webpage, email them at info@spacesinthecity.com or call them at 865.544.4199.

Comments

  1. Marie Alcorn says:

    Coincidentally, Teresa DeWine died just days before this blog. The pride of family is evident in the obituary, and I would anticipate that the renewed life of the DeWine Building will be an additional source of pride. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/knoxnews/obituary.aspx?n=teresa-margaret-white-dewine&pid=188057202&fhid=4002

  2. I love the project. No critism here except for parking. While street parking may seem like an option it’s not feasible in the long run. Maybe some creative ideas are in order. Please post them I wonder if the city could start planning some parking and improved neighborhood security. For many year neighborhoods outside downtown lobbied to keep the homeless in one 5 block area..so we all should bear the burden of policing the area and improving it.

  3. Dang, that single span building is pretty nuts.
    This space is going to be great. So stoked!!

  4. Where do cars for 450-600+ park? The Elkmont Exchange can barely handle it’s patrons with spaces scattered on adjacent properties. Love the development coming our way, but the amount of traffic this might generate could be problematical. Not sure the church lot can handle this even if they agree. Glad i can walk.

  5. I’m not speaking ill of it just being what I see as realistic. I mean I certainly see some progress here and there, and I encourage it. I’m really not trying to be counterproductive. I just don’t like a lot of the things that I see. Certainly putting something in an empty building is better than nothing, but I would like to see more vision.

    • This is a project that certainly portrays vision and ignites excitement and energy into the surrounding neighborhoods and the Broadway corridor, so I’m not understanding your comments or inconsistent point of view. As another fellow resident of a surrounding neighborhood, I’d encourage you to be happy that these businesses are not only investing in buildings, but doing a superb job of revitalizing them. If you truly want to see ‘skyscrapers’ downtown, the revitalization has to continue outward from the downtown (like this building exemplifies) into these neighborhoods and then eventually it will move back towards downtown. I’ve always thought positivity brings more change than negative criticism – warranted or not (this case being the latter).

  6. Scott Carpenter says:

    Glad to see the place looking so wonderful. I hope the best for them.

    Any word on whether they have parking? Asking for a friend.

    • More than enough parking surrounding the Venue. From Broadway at Lamar then East on 3rd hen North on Morgan, there are over 117 empty street parking spaces. And this only represents the block surrounding the Press Room on 3 sides.

  7. Metro Pulse used to print there. Spent a lot of time in that building for press checks.

  8. What is the purpose of this build if the Mill and Mine already exists? I appreciate the restoration of the building but do we not need anything other than coffee shops and event spaces? This is so similar to the Mill and Mine that it seems a little shady to me.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Event spaces in and around downtown are book a year and more in advance. The demand is overwhelming. Also, while somewhat visually similar, this space will be more for events and it will not be a concert venue ala the Mill and Mine. I have no idea what “looks shady” about it.

      • While AC entertainment may try and spin Mill and Mine as a concert venue it hosts far more private events than concerts. It is basically a copy cat building….which is the shady part.

    • Nothing Shady here Jared. Last year we turned away over 100 events at the Square Room behind Cafe 4 our other venue location due to size. The Press Room has been designed for Special Events with an emphasis on Corporate functions and Weddings….. not set up for concerts. This location also houses our catering business, City Catering and has a fantastic lounge and outdoor facility. The Press Room can seat as many as 500+ guests and we are simply responding to what we feel is the market need.

    • KnoxEvents says:

      Lol @Jared call the Mill And Mine and tell them you have an event you want to book next month, then tell me we don’t need another event space.

    • Stel Kandilakis says:

      K’ville definitely needs more event spaces. This looks very versatile and I bet it will book fast. Congrats Jim and Lori, on another creative adventure.

  9. A very dramatic and successful building renovation. Kudos to them, and best wishes on the new venture.

  10. Just like the coffee shop on Broadway, this is another business that is moving into a neighborhood that they didnt realize how bad the crime is and once they do, they will move out, just wait and see. The coffee shop has been broken in to so many times and other businesses, and the businesses on the ground floor of the building across from balter beer works has had its glass shattered I believe several times. Sorry, but these people are confusing desirable desirable buildings with desirable neighborhoods, and this neighborhood is not ready for these developments. Until the homeless area is gone away the progress is never gonna be very dramatic. But I do applaud people for trying. And I do know the neighborhood because I live in it, next to Broadway. But I would like to see condos and skyscrapers and new restaurants to start coming in, and buildings with unique design. I personally think Knoxville’s downtown and surrounding area just needs more defining unique buildings, including skyscrapers!

    • It’s a process, I’m speaking of the transition from as u say “crime stricken” area to a builtout and developed one. Simple vandalism is what it your referring to, and it shows up in the most prosperous areas. To say the neighborhood isn’t ready for this type of development juxtaposed to saying we need more unique buildings like skyscrapers is counterproductive.

    • The more desirable businesses that move in causes more residential units to move in, which causes more people to move in, which will deter crime from the area itself. Making a big deal out of a few breakins in one or two coffee shops isn’t going to stop people from wanting to move in. Really, all they need to do is install a security system and not leave cash out and it wouldn’t be a problem. I would imagine after the first or second break in, the owners would have either invested in a safe, or taken the cash home with them nightly, solving the problem.

    • Darrell, the owners literally live three blocks from the space, so I doubt they will be caught unawares when it comes to the type of neighborhood they’re building in. Which, despite what you believe, is making leaps in bounds in terms of improving its character. I also own a business on the same block, and I’m very excited to see them moving in. And if you live in the neighborhood, I’m not sure why you would speak I’ll of it. But as they say, ‘haters gonna hate.’

    • Could it also be that public schools are holding this area back significantly? I honestly don’t know, but anecdotally I’ve known families in North Knoxville that go to considerable effort or expense to send their kids out of the zone. There is a lot of vacant land in that area that could go to new, dense single family home development and that in turn would spur more commercial development that is not entertainment-oriented.

      • Cliff your questions and statements hit the nail on the head – part of the problem is that in order to feasibly build and sell quality new single family homes that would fit into the character of these neighborhoods, one would have to ask for a level of pricing that many people wouldn’t spend on these school systems. It’s unfortunate, and a ‘chicken before the egg’ situation in that more stable young families are needed to improve the schools, while the schools are what deter many stable young families. There will hopefully be a tipping point at some point, or else a city-level plan of attack to attract more families to these neighborhoods and schools. Part of the school problem is perception, the other part is getting people to be okay with sending their kids to a more diverse school than you would find in West Knoxville.

    • Thanks for your opinion Darrell, I can certainly understand your feelings about crime and homelessness in the area and the deterrence of growth and development. About 14 years ago the same issues you mention actually existed throughout downtown, including “Market Square”. Back then, several people had grand visions to create a positive change and my wife and I also felt that we too could make a difference. In the early 2000’s we opened up a little lunch stop (Tijuana Taco Co.) on Market Square. It actually thrived during the lunch hours despite the fact that crime and homelessness were also an issue at the time. However, we found that people working downtown were actually starved (no pun intended) for change, growth and development. Even though we ended up selling the business after our first year, we knew that we helped progress the downtown just a little.

      In 2007 we pushed the envelope even more and launched a restaurant and venue called Cafe 4 and The Square Room. In those days, many would still have thought twice about coming into Market Square after dusk and honestly, most people including our friends and family thought we were absolutely crazy. Look at the downtown now! Only two-years later we moved our family from West Knoxville into 4th & Gill and made the plunge into downtown living. Despite the then culture shock, we would never leave now.

      Since then, much of the North Knoxville area has changed and most would say it’s progressively getting better. Yes! We need some sustainable ideas and accountability to tame the homeless situation but the truth is, we still love our inner city. We love the feel of the downtown! We love the uniqueness of the people! We love the culture! And I don’t say this from the perspective of a big developer, simply from that of a local downtown family who loves to expose people to the beauty of our desirable neighborhoods, families and the desirable businesses around us.

      I would ask that you and others take the time to thank each of the local businesses and business owners around here who are all taking financial chances in an effort to replicate the needed change (similar to what occurred over 10 years ago) in the downtown. Most of these folks are literally risking everything they have to better the community.

      Together we are made up as neighbors, guests, patrons and business owners in this fantastic Knoxville community which we all love. The undesirable segment of criminals will eventually dissipate when they see us act and bond as a community.

      Everyone reading this can be an agent of positive change. When you pass by the Press Room and see our 1,000 points of light, think of what you can do to make a difference. Remember Darrell, it all starts with a dream or vision, then followed by action. …. it all starts with you.

    • Nicole Campbell says:

      We do not need skyscrapers…. I commend the efforts of all our new broadway and downtown ventures. Taking a dilapidated building and making it new again…. that is what scruffy city is about. Knoxville spent to many years tearing down amazing buildings and building new. It is about time we embrace our history.

      • High Five.

        • I do have to say though, we have some not so amazing buildings and plenty of empty space. Such as the Free Service building behind Regas Square. I see they’ve started construction on it. I hope they find a way to make it taller. It’s important to preserve the beautiful buildings, but the storage sheds, fairly new buildings that are only replicas of old diners, and car service places, or whatever that 70’s monstrosity that used to be the CTV building on either State or Central (can’t remember) is supposed to be, personally I think they all could go in favor of taller buildings that would enhance our skyline.

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