Evolving Supreme Court Site Development Plans

Locust and Church Rendering, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Locust and Church Rendering, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Rick Dover, DIA Architects, J Davis Architects and Bristol Development Group recently presented their current vision for the Supreme Court Site on the downtown block bounded by Henley, Church, Locust and Cumberland to City Council in a workshop. The entire city block project is pivotal to downtown development as it has the potential to connect downtown to the Convention Center and beyond, to stretch downtown residential and retail parameters and to engage and begin to reshape Henley Street.

The original proposal by Rick Dover was accepted by the city in December 2016. You can see my summary of that plan and a link to the full plan in my article from just over a year ago. Part of that agreement was that conceptual designs would be submitted for discussion by April of this year with a deadline of December of this year for the plans to be accepted by the city in order for the project to move forward. This was a meeting to discuss that submission. The agreement further states that construction must begin by the end of 2019 and it should be completed by 2022.

Site Location, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Site Location, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Site Massing Diagram,  Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Site Massing Diagram, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

There are differences between the original plan and this plan as submitted (it could further evolve), but the general plan of a hotel, apartments, a restaurant and retail have generally remained consistent. Limitations of traffic flow and access to Henley have been factors in the changes. There are currently two access points from the site to Henley and when the developers inquired to TDOT about shifting those, they were told that not only could they not shift them, they could not use them. It’s the kind of significant change that impacts a design and can’t be known until the project has advanced past a proposal stage.

Site Division Lower Level, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Site Division Lower Level, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

2nd Level Site Plan, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

2nd Level Site Plan, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Upper Level, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Upper Level, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Other changes since the first proposal that have impact its current formulation include the fact that the Aloft Hotel planned for the site is no longer a consideration given subsequent acquisitions in the hotel industry. There has also been an explosion of constructed and announced hotel projects in the time since the proposal was submitted. While a hotel continues to be a part of the proposal, it will likely be a boutique hotel. Room numbers for that portion of the project have been reduced from 170 to 100.

The marble portion of the Supreme Court building will be preserved as a restaurant and bar and roof access is planned for that structure at the corner of Cumberland and Locust. The number of apartments proposed has gotten more specific, from “over 200,” initially to 230 at this time. Parking has been shifted downward slightly from 425 to “right at 400.” The ratio of bedrooms to parking is about 1:.95.

Church Street Elevation, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Church Street Elevation, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Cumberland Avenue Elevation, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Cumberland Avenue Elevation, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Henley Street Elevation, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Henley Street Elevation, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Locust Street Elevation, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Locust Street Elevation, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

One of the charges from the city was for the project to activate Henley rather than turning its back to the street, as is now the case for nearly all other buildings on the corridor. The developers feel there is no feasible way to justify retail on that side, but they’ve added windows along that side at street level showing the amenities for the hotel guests and apartment residents, including a fitness center, “24/7 coffee shop,” bike shop (for residents and guests) and a pet spa.

As with other similar developments, this one will include an internal public space over the parking which will include shared amenities such as a pool and outdoor kitchens. Many units will also have balconies which offer outdoor space and are designed to give the facade of the building more interest. The facade is currently slated to be constructed of brick and steel at street level, with stucco above.

Church and Henley Rendering, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Church and Henley Rendering, Proposed Supreme Court Site Development, Knoxville, April, 2018

Downtown is evolving, so it could shift, but at this time they are looking at rates of roughly $2 per square foot in rent, which they said is similar to other nearby projects. As an example, they offered that a 800 square foot apartment would run $1600 to $1700.

Comments

  1. Daniel says:

    One interesting aside to this project is the specific call outs for vinyl windows. Vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum clad, and other “combustible” window frames (to my knowledge) are disallowed for new construction projects in the fire district of Knoxville.

    There is no logical reason for it. (The international building code permits combustible window frames). Nevertheless it’s but one example of unique building restrictions and code interpretations that make development more costly in Knoxville.

  2. Why can’t we get a H&M, Zara, or Nordstrom? That would definitely draw a lot of traffic. We desperately need more retail options in this city. Cities much smaller than us have better retail options.

    • Sabrina Straub says:

      Agreed, an H&H or Zara would be awesome and would help bring people to this part of town.

    • Jeremy says:

      Totally agree. If even Chattanooga can have stores like this we should have already had them. But that won’t happen until more people move/can move downtown.

      • Tim Lucas says:

        We are far better served than Chattanooga. Just an example of stores we have that they don’t. 1. Apple Store, 2. Urban Outfitters, 3. Anthropologie, 4. Pottery Barn. I’m sure there are even more.

        • Those are very good examples but I think they do have an Anthropologie. However they do have an H&M

    • I’ve never heard of most of these stores. Why do you all think they have not chosen to locate in Knoxville yet? Are they corporations or franchises? If they’re franchises, then there may be some business opportunities available to someone willing to take on the risk. Maybe even one of you guys.

  3. I guess I’m in the minority, but I like it. They’re putting in a little bit of everything where they can. I don’t see there being a huge demand for retail in this area. I also like the idea of more hotels downtown. When I travel I always look for places downtown to stay. If you want to see downtown revived, you have to accept the risks that buildings may end up vacant one day. I get that some people grow tired of ‘modern’ designs, but what other design is there? Construction is done in the present, not the past.

    • Those are really flippant views. You don’t see retail because there is no retail there at this time. Obviously hotels are needed, but it’s a legitimate concern to ask if the supply is outstripping demand.

      • Meh. I’ve worked downtown for over a decade. Very few people walk over that way. It would be the only retail space in the vicinity. I can see how it would be hard to justify betting a lot of chips on multiple retail fronts.. You’d have to pull shoppers away from areas that have a higher saturation of retail. Most people walk down Gay or Market Square during the day and then venture into the Old City as the sun goes down. Hopefully that can change one day. Does anybody remember the little market that was in the bottom part of the UT conference center facing Henley? I would bet very few do because very few people walk over there. Then there’s the corner of the Medical Arts Building that has been a revolving door of retail and services. It’s just not a good spot for retail yet.

        It does appear they’ve addressed the concern of too many hotel rooms by reducing the number of them in this project. I would like to see some more hotels downtown, though. There are some good spots on Gay and within Union, Church, Market, and Locust for some bigger developments.

        I really like what’s happening in downtown Knoxville. When I moved here this place was awful. Now it’s pretty cool. To each their own, though.

        Also, I’ve noticed a lot of folks that comment on these articles have repeatedly mentioned the need for a grocery store. Typically a high end, trendy one. Why do you all suppose no one has attempted that yet? It may be a great opportunity for some folks. Maybe even the people who are making the comments about it.

  4. I’m hoping for something retail to go in the bottom of this building. Although it’s not a bad walk, it’s always kind of perplexing to walk visitors several blocks for coffee or the like from the Convention Center. Tho the primary goal of this project is hotel space + living space, I am hoping they can think bigger about Henley + Church Street sides. That being said, restaurant / bar option is much needed in this section.

  5. Really disappointing use for this space. It’s pretty clear they went as cheap as possible. It’s your typical high margin 1+5 (5 floors on a parking deck) infill development. Agree it’s funny that they show people enjoying a stroll on Henley while eliminating ground floor retail. Thought it would have been a good place for a TJ’s or similar medium size grocery.

  6. I guess I’m the only one who wants to see a few more tall high rises to add to our skyline, All of these are boring rectangle 5-10 story. Even the Neyland/Hill apts will barely add to that. I guess the crooked Butcher bros are the only ones who aimed high. Having said that, I am impressed with what downtown Knoxville has been doing overall. I love working and playinig downtown.

  7. I continue to wonder why we are becoming a downtown of hotels. Is there really that much demand? It would be nice if there is, but Knoxville isn’t Las Vegas. If we overbuild hotels, we might end up with empty big boxes and a different type of urban blight. Most larger cities I’ve visited have at least one indoor mall in the city center, and if that business model could be made to work in Knoxville, this site would seem to be an ideal location for it. Diversity in all things is good, and having something other than apartments, hotels and restaurants might bring more life to the downtown.

    • They said the construction has to begin by the end of 2019 and finish by 2022. In Knoxville terms, that means construction will not begin until the end of 2019 and will not finish until 2022. That’s almost five years away. Think of how much has happened in the past five years. 5 years ago our biggest attraction was freaking Mast General Store. Think of how much will surely happen in the next five years. The hotel will be justified.

    • Ugh. Please don’t blight this city with the outdated indoor mall concept.

      • Jeremy says:

        The same people who say that indoor malls are outdated are the same people who singlehandedly blame Amazon for the “retailpocolypse.” Some people like to go out and get stuff the same day, and let’s be real. Summers here are miserable and a little climate control is a good thing.

        • There are other concepts–retail districts, the square provides another way, etc. Malls are one of the symptoms of past myopia, not the solution.

          • Also, people who shop online aren’t the cause of the decline of the outdated mall concept. Poor design and inability to adapt caused that. Also, Amazon shoppers also like to shop. Yeah, I’m not going to go to the store for everything, but clothes, art, furniture, etc are always in person buys for me.

          • And we have two malls already, one of which is all but dead. Why build another?

  8. George Scott says:

    I’m not impressed by the design; looks like lots of other apartment buildings going up in the urban center. Still, glad to see something happening in that part of town. It might open up the area for retail between State and Henley, the natural footprint of Downtown. Thanks, Alan.

  9. Chris Eaker says:

    So funny how the renderings show so many people (always young millennial types) walking along Henley, which you never see. Who wants to walk along that street?

    • Pedestrian Taste says:

      People with a death wish?

    • Sabrina Greene says:

      It doesn’t appear to be very inclusive. A grocery store with reasonable prices would be a good addition to the area. An affordable Maker’s Space would also be nice.

  10. Art Wagner says:

    Frankly, this evolved proposal is even more disappointing and disheartening than their original. This site represented a real opportunity for expanded uses and a unique visual appeal. Beyond sad.

  11. InterestedOutsider says:

    It is unfortunate that the courtyard could not be opened up to Henley and some type of sculpture placed in that would get depth and dignity to that part of Henley.

  12. Melissa says:

    Once more, thank you for your excellent coverage of downtown Knoxville!

    I just have to say, however, that appearance-wise (and I know it’s early), this just looks like another butt ugly modern building. I hope the reality is better!

  13. Arthur B CarmichaelA III says:

    So, the bulk of the sidewalk level Church Street side will be just blank wall? Bad urban design always seems to creep in somewhere.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      That block was discussed with your concern being expressed. The developers talked about putting “interactive art,” on that wall. They seem to feel they can’t do retail. I wondered if an additional space might not be possible adjacent to the corner retail. They do have a necessary entrance to the garage on that side and there are blank walls facing them from across the street at the UT Conference Center, which is unfortunate.

  14. eorley says:

    Marriott acquired Starwood Hotels

  15. Jeremy says:

    Do you know what acquisitions in the hotel industry he is referring to?

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