Keener Building Opens to Residents

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

The first residents moved into the near-completed Keener Building this past weekend. While not quite completed – workers were scurrying about at every turn when I visited – the building has experienced a stunning transformation from the tour I took about a year ago.

The building’s address is on World’s Fair Park Drive, which runs alongside it, but it faces Broadway and sits at the odd intersection formed by Oak, Jackson, World’s Fair Park and Broadway. Across the street is the Southeastern Glass Building and Balter Beerworks. It’s just a few steps down Broadway from Lincoln Memorial Law School. Students from the school comprise the majority of new residents in the building.

Commercial Space, Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Commercial Space, Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Efficiency Unit, Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Efficiency Unit, Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Efficiency Unit, Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

The commercial space has not been completed as the priority was placed on the residential units. Comprised of about 2,800 square feet, it is likely to be office space, though another use could present itself. There is no grease trap, so the likelihood of a restaurant is low.

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

View from front corner unit, Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

There are 32 apartments, including nine two-bedroom units. Before opening, all but one unit had been leased, including 20 to LMU students. Interestingly, unlike many undergraduates who take roommates to save money, they were not interested in two bedroom homes. Law school is a lonely road and roommates do not tend to help in the journey.

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

LMU students were allowed an early tour in mid April and instantly took eleven of the units. The others were leased over the course of the next four-to-five weeks. Several new residents expressed surprise, once they looked at the building, with the proximity to so much. UT is a short bike ride or walk through the World’s Fair Park, downtown is just around the corner and the Old City is just a couple of blocks away.

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Sizes of the homes range from a 450 square foot studio apartment to one-bedrooms that generally fall into about 650 to 750 square feet. The two bedroom units are the largest, of course, ranging upwards to over 1200 square feet. Prices range accordingly, but roughly fall into an $800 to $1800 range.

Loft Apartment, Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Loft Apartment, Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Loft Apartment, Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

The non-LMU residents are a mix of local – moving from other parts of downtown, for example – to people who are new to the area. While many students moved in this past weekend, to settle in before classes start, some of the others will be moving in in coming days.

Two Bedroom Unit, Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Two Bedroom Unit, Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Keener Building, 701 World’s Fair Park Drive, Knoxville, July 2018

Whitney Manahan, who designed the Electric Company Lofts which opened a year ago, also led the design team on this project. From the facade to the various units and the foyers and hallways, the project turned out beautifully and is another accomplishment in the Dewhirst Properties large portfolio of reclaimed downtown buildings.

Comments

  1. Oslo Cole says:

    The place looks beautiful although I’m a little bummed not to see any Tiffany-style lighting. ;-(

  2. Kim Trent says:

    And to think that this building was once in danger of being torn down as part of the viaduct replacement project. Thank you, Dewhirst Properties, for getting this building listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Preservation does work!

  3. Sharon Collins says:

    Beautiful restoration for an unique building. So glad to see this happening.

  4. Well done Dewhirst team, great addition to downtown.
    Thanks also to Bill Lyons for explaining to us Knoxville residents the importance of PILOT’s & TIF’s. Just to add they do not involve any tax payer money changing hands, they just defer the payment of property taxes on the amount of investment made by the investor in a project. The City and County still receive property taxes in the same sum as they were before the improvements started. TIF’s and PILOT’s are merely a way of enticing investors to improve dilapidated and sometimes empty buildings for the long term benefit of Knoxville.

  5. This is a terrific project and we at the City are thrilled that the Keener building is restored and headed to full productive use. After administrative review and strong support this project was approved for a 12 year PILOT without which the project would not have occurred. The policy supporting Payment and Lieu of Taxes and Tax Increment Financing has been key to the development of multiple parcels in downtown and the city core. These projects undergo strict review to provide Council and often Commission with confidence that the project would not occur without this public support.

    Thus projects including the vast majority of restored structures in the city core, would not have occurred without public policy that structures the tax abatement and hard work to retain the public and political support that makes any of this possible. I take the time to repeat this message because elections for Mayor and 4 Council members are right around the corner. The TIF / PILOT program is subject to the political currents of the day and one such current is that the program is not needed. If we do not recognize the positive outcomes this program leads to we hasten the time when candidates for office are either not supportive or in explicit opposition. Such candidates might not understand or appreciate the value that restoration of structures like the Keener Building, Cal Johnson, Mill and Mine, just to mention a few of dozens of like efforts, brings to our City. In short, these are difficult projects that do not just happen. They require both skilled and imaginative developers who take significant risk. They also require a public policy that make the projects possible. Thanks.

  6. Great Work! Glad to see the City’s Historic Preservation Fund used in such a beneficial way.

  7. Deb Taylor says:

    Great job! What a lovely addition to to the Jackson Ave. and Broadway corner. I’m looking forward to seeing what lucky occupant claims the commercial space.

  8. Great to see this finally materialize. Exterior of the Keener may not have some of the architectural features of other buildings we’ve seen restored, but what the designers have done with the interior looks impressive and inviting, especially with those huge windows left in place. This will be a nice complement to the Southeastern Glass Bldg across the street (and probably more affordable lofts) as well as the west end of Jackson Ave. Well done!

  9. Oren Yarbrough says:

    What a perfect anchor for this corner of Broadway and Jackson. I pine for a future when the stretch of Jackson Ave separating Broadway and Gay is just as densely filled with all the mixed-use design my head can dream up. Jackson is the immediate face of Knoxville that we show travelers driving through on the interstate and it has so much potential. Congratulations to everyone who made this project happen. I look forward to the next one!

  10. Well done Dewhirst team!

  11. Wallace Stewart says:

    That’s 20 lucky law students! Those lovely apartments are perfect for school, studying for the bar and will even be perfect for the grueling first couple of years of practice! Renovation looks great and obviously supplies a demand.

  12. Rick Dover says:

    Another gem by Mark Heinz and David Dewhirst!

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