City Council Approves Supreme Court Site Plan

Rendering of Henley Street and Church Street View of the Supreme Court Site Redevelopment

Earlier this week, City Council unanimously approved the most recent incarnation of plans for redevelopment of the parking lot portion of the Supreme Court site bounded by Locust, Church and Henley Street. While mostly the same, it has evolved slightly since I last reported on it in December.

As approved, the building will stand at eight stories and will include 230 apartments and an interior courtyard, with a two level parking garage for residents below the building. There will be two entrances to the garage along Church Street, with each going to disconnected levels.

Graphic of Divisions of Supreme Cour Site Projects

Supreme Court Site Rendering, Corner of Locust and Church

The corner of Church and Henley will serve as the primary residential entrance and leasing office. From that corner and running along Henley, plans are to include a co-working space and some “public function,” along with an exterior patio and work-out facilities facing the street.

The Church Avenue frontage beginning at the shared corner with Locust Street will have a secondary residential entrance. This (north) side of the development will include the two previously mentioned garage entrances and some sort of public art. A “bike lounge once planned for the corner of the building nearest Cumberland, facing Henley is now placed in the middle of the Church Avenue block.

Rendering of View from Church Street for the Supreme Court Site Redevelopment

Rendering of View from Henley Street for the Supreme Court Site Redevelopment

Rendering of View from Locust Street for the Supreme Court Site Redevelopment

The frontage along Locust Street will feature three townhouses with a stoop and direct access to the sidewalk and large windows facing the street from an elevated perspective. The plans as presented here are for the parking lot development only and so the end of this block at the corner of Locust and Cumberland is not included, but the existing Supreme Court Building will be preserved on that corner.

Leasing Office Entry at Church and Henley

Residential Entry at Church and Locust

Financing is anticipated to be completed in June, making a groundbreaking a possibility for later this year. Mr. Dover said he expects to break ground by October and the construction process (which will run simultaneously to development of the other portion of the block) should take 24 months.


Editor’s Notes:

I have several events coming up to which I’d love to invite you. Check them out below to see if you might be interested.

  • Urban Hike, Saturday, June 1, 11:15 AM. As a part of Bike, Boat, Brew and Bark, I’ll be leading a walk and talk as I did last year. We’ll follow a similar route, starting at the Market Square Stage and walking across the Gay Street Bridge to Suttree Landing Park before returning to Gay Street where we’ll disperse. Along the way we’ll talk about the city, development and whatever else you’d like to discuss. the walk is free, but participation is limited and registration is required here.
  • Knoxville Writer’s Guild, Central United Methodist Church, June 6, 7:00 PM. I’ll be the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the Knoxville Writer’s Guild, discussing the writing journey that is Inside of Knoxville. It is open to the public and a small donation (for the guild) is requested.
  • Arts and Culture Alliance, Emporium, June 13, 5:30 PM, “Growing Your Social Media Presence,” Cost is $5 for members and $8 for non-members. Registration and payment are required here.


  1. DowntownLocal says

    The 78 millon dollar “Metropolitan Plaza” concept that Nick Cazana presented in 2009 was 2000% better than than this basic, boring a “development” with absolutely zero character. Folks threw a collective conniption back then but it was better than this thing, which if you’ll forgive me, basically, looks like the outside of a climate controlled storage business with balconies tacked on for good measure.

    I don’t believe in tearing down our old buildings but if it must be done, at least build something that isn’t THIS. Don’t we already have enough of THIS?

    Every time I read about another “development” that is more boring and characterless than the one before it, I think to myself, “Will people be sorry when we’re just another generic, un-scruffy, city filled with a bunch of rich a-holes who don’t care to remember anything about the people, places and local color that were bulldozed away so they could drink their Starbucks?”

    As Joni Mitchell said, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” I just hope we don’t all sit on our hands and do nothing before it’s too late.

    • Kenneth Moffett, AIA says

      Looking back at Dover’s “original development proposal,” and knowing nothing of whatever complexities have lead instead to the current scheme, the earlier version achieves two important things that the latter does not: gaps in the massing which avoid an impression that the building is a massive solid covering the entire block; and confident development with large-scale elevational and skyline treatments of the resulting building elements.

  2. Kenneth Moffett, AIA says

    Boring, dull, and safe is preferable to the well-meaning professionals that end up being asked to do this sort of work in Knoxville deciding to let er rip. Historicism having been
    banished as if against the law, the alternative is ingeniously nice modernism, which no one is being taught.

  3. Does anyone know if / when Knoxville will get a grocery store that is closer to downtown than Publix / Kroger / Coop?

    • Downtown probably needs another 20-30,000 people before that becomes a viable option.

      • Tyler Stooksbury says

        Maybe not a full on grocery store, but we need something to get some basic grocery items. More than “The Market” on gay st, but not quite a full scale Publix. The market on gay st is full of junk.

        • Arthur B Carmichael III says

          The Market on Gay Street wasn’t always full of junk. It started out with fresh breads, fresh meats, lots of fresh fruits & vegetables, an olive oil dispensary, a really nice selection of dry goods and other various grocery items. We’ve also, in the past, had grocery purveyors such as Just Ripe where the Pearl on Union currently resides, Aisle Nine in the space most recently, and again soon, I think, occupied by Good Golly Tamale, (I can’t remember the name) that eventually morphed into the Curious Dog & (also can’t remember the name) that was in the space most recently occupied by the Basement Community Art Studio. The problem is that what sells at a volume and/or margin that works at the price per square foot of retail space Downtown is beer & cigarettes which the lone survivor, The Market, has relegated itself to. Everything else they sell either has to have a months/years shelf life or is there by the blessing and likely, at cost to the owners who, somehow, still believe an actual grocery can be sprouted there someday. The biggest problem is that there are several groceries (at least 8) within 15-20 minutes drive from Downtown that offer copious amounts of parking and exist on land that is much less expensive than Downtown, which allows them draw customers from a wide area and, thus, operate on volume pricing. Given the high p/sq. ft. and the small number of residents/workers Downtown, a Downtown grocer would have to operate on margin pricing. Since many, if not most, residents of Downtown own cars ad can easily drive to a supermarket offering volume pricing the available customer base, unfortunately, tends to opt to drive to get their groceries. Maybe somebody (you, perhaps) can come up with a way to work all that out without landing on the beer & cigarettes + whatever crap can survive on the shelf for months/years formula but several have tried, to no avail. The most likely scenario is a grocery lands here when/if we have enough population to allow the grocer to sell at enough volume that they can drop the margin to the point that they can compete with the supermarkets that are an easy drive from Downtown. That doesn’t mean they need to have to have prices that are even to supermarket prices but they have to be able to survive on prices low enough to make it no longer worthwhile to drive to one of the various supermarkets that surround Downtown. In order to operate at a low enough margin a grocer would need to be able to rely on thousands of customers per day. We’re not there yet. Given the small footprint of Downtown, we’ll probably need several residential towers to get there. Maybe/hopefully someday the Downtown real estate market will be able to support that.

          • Charlotte has about 12k people living in uptown and has had a grocery (Harris Teeter) for years. Still, we are well below that number.

      • That’s a very lofty estimate. I feel like 2-3 thousand seems more realistic. For a mid sized store at least.

        • Arthur B Carmichael says

          Sure, I would love to be wrong about that and maybe you have a novel way to make those numbers work but 2-3 thousand people would equal a few hundred customers a day at best and that’s assuming almost everybody amongst that 2-3 thousand patronizes your business. At volume pricing that works out to, maybe, if your very lucky, a couple hundred dollars a day in gross profit (not sure of the term but profit minus cost for goods). From that you’ll still have to pay your lease, utilities, employees, equipment, loan payments, etc., etc. and then live off of whatever’s left. Maybe you can make that work but those numbers don’t seem all that workable to me.

          • Arthur B Carmichael says

            Sorry, typo correctio: That should be gross revenue (revenue minus the cost for goods).

          • Charlotte has about 12k people living in uptown and has had a grocery (Harris Teeter) for years. Still, we are well below that number.

  4. IIRC, at one time the Church street side was going to be a blank wall so, kudos to the developers for adding life to that side of the development.

  5. Yeah I’ll be glad to see something go in there. Wish it wasn’t another boring, dull, safe building. I figure eventually someone is gonna go all out on design and get rewarded with $$$$. I thought the city passed an ordinance regarding X amount of green space if a parking garage was involved or am I wrong? This has none.

  6. Anything is better than a parking lot. Look forward to seeing how it turns out

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