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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.