Rebuilt Dock Beside Calhouns, Tennessee River, Knoxville, May 2018
Large amounts of information pass my way. Sometimes it’s interesting, but not enough for a proper article. Other times it is reported in other media before I see it and so, the urgency isn’t there to get it out. Still, the information is important and, as our information gathering becomes more fragmented, I realize that some of it may have gotten by my readers. So, it is in the spirit of making sure those little details are offered on this space, that I present the following.
The first story involves KAT, which is committed to reducing pollution produced by its fleet. The Federal Transit Administration awarded $3.6 million for the purchase of completely electric buses. This adds to the energy efficient vehicles already operated by KAT, which includes 13 hybrid buses and Trolleys.
The grant was supported by Congressman Duncan and city officials. Given that we’ve already had air alerts this early in the summer season, anything that can be done to clean our air needs to be done. The grant provides an 80% match for the purchase of buses. The funds will help purchase five electric buses plus the necessary infrastructure. Plans call for the buses to be in use by the end of 2019.
Another story involves Volunteer Landing Park, which includes nearly 13 acres along the waterfront, including the primary launch from Volunteer Landing, the greenway along the river, the Treaty of the Holston monument and the docks on the river side of Calhoun’s.
Those docks, built for the 1982 World’s Fair, were damaged by a boat last year and, given their age and the damage involved, they were completely rebuilt. The replacement of the docks cost $270,000, with a TWRA grant funding 75% of the costs. The docks located to the west of this location – where the Vol Navy largely congregates – are also set to be rebuilt, though that effort will be planned to avoid football season.
The former Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center (beneath the Holiday Inn on the World’s Fair Park was in the news last month with a ribbon cutting hosted by the city, Visit Knoxville and SMG Management. It has been renamed the World’s Fair Exhibition Hall, which helps distinguish it from the Knoxville Convention Center. In addition to the renaming, the city has committed $2.6 million to making improvements, including a new HVAC system, roof and upgraded bathrooms.
Like the docks, it was built in 1982 as part of the World’s Fair construction. It served as Knoxville’s primary convention offering until the current Convention Center was built. In comments, Mayor Rogero said,
Knoxville’s national reputation as a destination city is growing, and bookings are at an all-time high at the Convention Center,” Mayor Madeline Rogero said. “The rebranded World’s Fair Exhibition Hall provides great new space and will position Knoxville to grow the number and quality of conventions, trade shows and youth sports events that we host.
It’s an added bonus that the World’s Fair Exhibition Hall will feature colors and images that pay homage to the 1982 World’s Fair, because the venue was originally built for the Fair.
The building includes over 66,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space and will be managed by SMG, which manages all other city venues, including the Convention Center, Auditorium and Coliseum. It will host independent events and be used as a supplemental space for events larger than the Convention Center can accommodate. It hosted its first event in late April for the “10th annual Spring Fling Basketball Tournament organized by the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission.
Finally, I’ve talked about it on the radio show (listen here for the full details), but I haven’t mentioned Open Streets on the blog. It’s coming May 20 and the location is a near-repeat of the location from last October. You may remember that Knoxville enjoyed a bizarre blast of arctic air in October – timed perfectly for Open Streets which were held on the Gay Street Bridge, Sevier Avenue and Suttree Landing Park.
The May 20 event (2:00 PM – 6:00 PM) will be centered on Sevier and will include Suttree Landing Park, but will not include the Gay Street Bridge. When the weather cooperates, Open Streets is one of the finest events in the city – almost magical in the way it connects neighbors and neighborhoods, gets people moving and smiling and shines a spotlight on businesses along the route. Not to be missed!