More Questions Answered and an Odd Real Estate Pitch

The Overlook Under Construction, Hill Avenue, Knoxville, March 2019

Answers always net new questions on this blog, which is a good thing. Knoxville has a lot of balls in the air at once and I don’t mean the iconic kind. There’s a lot going on here and you all are all about it. So, let’s look at some of the questions from yesterday and a couple of others, plus I’m going to make a sales pitch for a piece of real estate.

A number of people are getting the twenty-six story proposed apartment building, The T at Riverfront, confused with the much smaller, but adjacent development, The Overlook. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these plans, you can find my most recent article giving all the details on the T at Riverfront, here. You’ll find the original announcement and details of The Overlook, here.

The Overlook Under Construction, Hill Avenue, Knoxville, March 2019

The Overlook Under Construction, Hill Avenue, Knoxville, March 2019

It’s The Overlook that has broken ground. The street-level space will be a garage for residents and others who currently own parking spaces on the site, which has been a parking lot. I contacted Josh Wright for a brief update and he said all is going forward and one of the nine units has already been sold.

Interest has been high, he said and the anticipated completion date is summer of 2020. You can see plans and more on their website and anyone interested in a unit should contact Kimberly Dixon Hamilton at 865.405.8970.

The proposed T at Riverfront abuts The Overlook on Hill, but also towers over every building nearby and spreads down toward the river. It will be a very large endeavor and it will be obvious something major is happening when it breaks ground. I reached out to project manager Rick Blackburn for an update and he said:

Regarding the T, the Owners are getting closer to getting financing for the project secured. It is a week to week situation.  The Owner has never shown a lack of commitment to or confidence in the project.  He says it’s not if, but when.  We are proceeding with due diligence towards permitting and final design.

Jackson Avenue Viaduct, Knoxville, March 2019

Jackson Avenue Viaduct, Knoxville, March 2019

Jackson Avenue Viaduct, Knoxville, March 2019

I also reached out to Downtown Coordinator Rick Emmett regarding the questions about the Jackson Avenue Viaduct. He confirmed what was reported in the comments yesterday, that plans at this time call for a July start on the project. Given the short timeline for this prediction, the time seems to have finally arrived. I’ll kind of miss the stalactites hanging from the old one.

State Street Garage, Knoxville, March 2019

I also asked him about the State Street Garage, as I know a number of downtown residents have a vested interest in having that completed. I’d understood that it would be June, but was told by a PBA employee that they were assuming October. He reiterated the June completion date and added that the Crane work would end this week and he hoped the project might even be finished before June.

And to conclude the question-and-answer section, I spoke to Dave McFarland, owner of Wild Wing Cafe and owner of the Kress Building. I told his story last fall. It’s sort of amazing that he’s come full circle to own the building. At that time he said beyond Wild Wing Cafe, plans were still being formulated for the building.

Kress Building, 417 South Gay Street, Knoxville, March 2019

He said they’ve made progress since then and plans are more-or-less finalized for the spaces throughout the building (and on top!). They hope to take the Johnson Architecture plans to permitting in the next week or two. Want to know more? So do I. To that end, he invited me to tour the building today and promised to give me all the details. Expect them tomorrow, right here.

A couple of other things: A friend and sometimes contributor to this blog sent me a note about another closure happening this weekend. It had gotten by me somehow, but there is more construction fun coming your way:

Gay Street will be closed starting Saturday, 10:00 pm, March 16, 2019, to Monday, 12:00 noon, March 18, 2019 to set up a crane to get supplies to the roof of the Embassy Suites.

304 Wall Avenue, Knoxville, March 2019

Finally, I’ve got a real estate pitch for someone out there. I have no connection or vested interest and I don’t know the realtor or the owner. It’s the location that caught my eye: 304 Wall Avenue. It’s a street-level address between the most developed span of Gay Street and Market Square. It needs to be converted to retail and it is on the market for 459,900. That’s a lot of money, but the payments might even be less than rent in the area and it would be owned.

It’s a condo now and I’ve been told the way the building was built, retail could not work. I’ve been told by others this is not true. So, do your due diligence, but I can’t help but believe the city would help make retail workable on that street which used to be filled on both sides with just that. You can look at the details here and the realtor is Kristi Dunlap (865-740-2637).


  1. Does the closing of Gay street this Sat conflict with the St Patrick’s Day parade?

  2. Rick Emmett says

    Thanks Alan,
    The closure of Gay Street for the crane will not begin until 2:00 am Sunday morning so no conflicts with parade or other events.
    My understanding of the issue at 304 Wall Avenue is that HOA rules preclude retail use,only residential.
    Finally, I confirmed yesterday that the crane used for State Street Garage construction has completed its work and will begin disassembly next week.

  3. Or all of the visitors in town for the Bassmaster event? Unfortunately, not the best way to showcase our beautiful city and it’s signature downtown corridor when we will be busting at the seems with visitors.

  4. I used to live in Lerner Lofts, the building on Wall Ave. At one point, Morelock Music was in that space but they got shut down due to a combination of codes issues (there aren’t sprinklers) and resident issues (the walls in that building are paper thin).

    It has always annoyed me that the ground floor of that building was residential rather than retail – apparently when it was rehabbed, “no one went” to Gay Street or Wall Ave so they didn’t see the need to build it out appropriately for conversion to retail later on. (Sound familiar?)

    In any event, the HOA in the building would have to approve the conversion and there would need to be some significant work done to any units that were converting. My understanding from my time living there was that the HOA really didn’t want retail. However, it seems a lot of the units are now being used for AirBnB so maybe the owners aren’t as concerned about possible issues with retailers as downstairs neighbors anymore. It definitely seems worth a try!

    • Agree. It would also be a matter of all street level owners agreeing to sell / combine, which doesn’t seem feasible, in addition to the construction issues you mentioned. Also, some residents were very concerned about AirBnB, but we moved so cannot speak to current opinions.
      Interesting updates about the other topics as well.

  5. That Wall St condo has very little upstairs square footage, it is mostly down that spiral staircase so I’m not sure how retail would work there. The unit to the right runs the rest of those windows on Wall and is owned by someone else. There are seven units on that level of the building, three of which go into the basement and these three are also all on Airbnb, and all have separate owners.

  6. I lived in the 306 unit for several years, and it had the perfect rectangular shape that would be awesome for retail. Part of the reason I moved is due to just how loud that unit is, being on the ground level with nothing but single pane windows separating you from all the foot/automobile traffic outside. (not to mention how many people beat on and tap the windows, which drove me and the dog crazy). As someone else mentioned, the 304 unit is very very small upstairs, but the downstairs part runs all the way under the building to gay street which is what makes it so great. Pretty cool spot, but I would venture to say not ideal for retail. 304 was a rental unit for almost all of the time since they renovated that building. It just sold for $255k 18 months ago, so good luck selling it @ $460k. Was not a big fan of the HOA in this building.Pretty sure they were/are in litigation over the usage of some of the units being used for airbnb.

    Interesting recommendation though.

    • 304 was for sale in 2014 when we ended up buying a place in the Old City instead. We spoke with the current tenants at that time who called it “The Dungeon”. The upstairs is very small – maybe 300 sq ft. The rest of the apartment is 3 rooms in the basement with no windows. Retail might be a much better answer, as for a residence, it seemed pretty bad.

  7. Any word on what is going in next to Magnolia Records? The 1500 block of Central, saw workers tear down the second story patio and putting on a new roof.

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