Tyson Court Apartments Now Pre-Leasing

Rendering of Tyson Court, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

It’s been five years since I started noticing this cool little area settled somewhere between downtown proper and north Knoxville. I wrote about an event at Ironwood studios in 2014 and about a cool building and interesting downtown icon who owns it later that year.

At the time, this area was brimming with potential, but not much else. That cool building now has Remedy Coffee and Paysan Bakery and, as the map below shows, the apartments now being built there are in the center of many of our best new businesses.

Businesses Near Tyson Court, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

Tyson Court Under Construction, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

Tyson Court Under Construction, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

Tyson Court Under Construction, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

Tyson Court is new construction of a thirty unit apartment complex being developed by Conversion Properties. Located on a small, previously vacant lot, the site presented challenges for placing an adequate number of units on the spot to make the project financially feasible and for providing parking.

The solution was to retain a space on the Jennings Street side of the development for parking and to construct two buildings with the primary entrances to the units between them. Design Innovation Architects and Faris Eid designed the project and TDH Construction is the builder. Financing, in partnership with the City’s PILOT program, is provided by Bank of Tennessee and lender Tommy Schmid about whom Daniel spoke very highly.

The thirty units, which include 48 beds (either bedrooms or space for beds in studios) include studio and one and two bedroom units. Daniel Odle with Conversion says that when the units were made available for pre-lease a few weeks ago, that he was surprised to find the studio and one bedroom units taken first. They were completely taken within the first two weeks of leasing. At this time, fifteen units are leased and fifteen two bedroom units remain.

Tyson Court Under Construction, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

Tyson Court Under Construction, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

Efficiency Apartment Under Construction, Tyson Court, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

Orientation of the units with their entrances toward the center allowed for large windows to be placed in living areas looking out onto Old Gray cemetery with its attractive monuments and beautiful dogwood and magnolia trees. St. John’s Lutheran Church is also visible from some of the units, while those on the north side face a more gritty urban terrain. While retail or restaurant space was considered, the developers did not feel the area would sustain it at this time beyond, perhaps, a coffee shop and they didn’t want to compete with Remedy.

Daniel said the intention was to build units in a cool area that is less expensive than the heart of downtown, but which provides great accessibility to various urban attractions. The result is the ability to offer rent in a new development which is lower priced than the center of downtown. The studio units went for $650, one bedroom for $875 and the two bedroom units currently available range from $1250 to $1450.

Tyson Court Under Construction, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

Tyson Court Under Construction, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

Tyson Court Under Construction, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

The units will have some upgraded finishes, like quartz counter tops, stainless appliances and washers and dryers provided in each unit. Daniel said the attempt is to make an urban contemporary design for the apartments that will fit with the downtown/north Knoxville neighborhood. The entire building is wired for high speed internet and parking is also available. An exterior courtyard with picnic tables and landscaping will be built once construction of the building is complete.

The city provided a thirteen year PILOT, which Daniel noted made the project financially possible. The neighborhood, he acknowledged has had to deal with some inconvenience during the construction and the company has tried to help minimize the impact where possible and work with nearby businesses.

Rendering of Tyson Court, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

Rendering of Tyson Court, 140 Jennings Avenue, Knoxville, June 2012

The end result, of course, will be that somewhere between thirty and sixty new customers will live in the neighborhood, which should help everyone. New residents are being given gift cards to nearby businesses in order to introduce them to the businesses as they move in. Daniel hopes it will serve as an anchor for further residential development in the area.

The expectation is for the apartments to be completed by the end of August, with residents set to move in beginning in September. If you are interested in leasing one of the units, contact Andrew Wilmoth at 865-246-1331, extension 108 or email him at awilmoth@conversionprop.com.

Ed Note:

I’d like to express my appreciation to the readers of Blank Newspaper. Once again this year in their Knoxville’s Finest edition, InsideofKnoxville.com was voted best “Local Website,” and the Inside of Knoxville’s Facebook Page was voted best “Local Facebook Page.” The category which may make me most happy is the one I didn’t win: Best Writer. The two people I share the spot with are two of my favorite writers and humans: First place went deservedly to Jack Neely and I am honored to be considered in the same breath with him and with Wayne Bledsoe with whom I tied for second place. If you don’t know Blank Newspaper, pick up a copy of their monthly newspaper or check out the website.


  1. I like the yellow color. I use to have a Cadillac that color with a white vinyl roof and tan leather inside with some 72 spoke Daytons and Vogues. Anyway I can’t believe these went up so quick. I am just so happy to see this area start developing again. I think they look a little out of place this close to the city but got to start somewhere. People want affordable housing near downtown this is as good as it is going to get.

  2. Looking forward to seeing more foot traffic in the area and inviting more folks to The Corner Lounge!

  3. It’s baffling to see so much heavy criticism of this project. Anyone who is familiar with the neighborhood and the realities of living here (homeless camps, vacant buildings, etc) will know what a HUGE improvement this is. The building is modern, sure, but it’s not bad. It fills a once vacant lot and provides VERY affordable housing that is easy walking distance to both downtown and the Old North area. This will be a huge boon to businesses. The $875 price point is really tough to find within any walking distance to the city and it appears the finishes will be nice and fresh. Not everything needs to be Regas Square, nor can most people or developers afford that. While I would hate if every building were board and batten modern style, I think it’s a nice addition to a grungy industrial area and the influx of people may finally spur redevelopment of the Sanitary Laundry facility and of more Emory Place buildings. Not everything needs retail and additional new retail spaces in this area would have competed with the redevelopment prospects of the surrounding historic buildings. Now the extra apartments will provide more potential customers and more incentive to redevelop some of Knoxville’s historic buildings.

  4. I’m happy to see the new units have been built, every occupied unit in the area helps to create more customers to sustain all the new businesses in the area

  5. I don’t think it looks cheaply constructed, conversion properties doesn’t play that game. Look at yesterday’s post, also conversion. The photos are just mid-construction, if you like the renderings you will like the building. Knoxville needs more affordable housing like this in this booming district and will help spur on all the existing and future retail development with new residents. Plus this area is not exactly a highly trafficked corridor (though it is a beautiful stroll), so it is still being activated with more affordable density, solid design, and appreciation for the neighborhood and its beauty. Developers can’t always tick all the boxes (trust me, I would prefer retail on street level always if possible) but this one hits quite a few of the ones people are always asking for

  6. I must step in and defend the design and construction of this project. When this project was first designed it had balconies and metal panels and a lot of architectural detailing that would make it attractive, but due to two major factors those had to be removed, one being financial and the other a size issue. The construction of these apartments were technically the second part of a two-phase development to renovate an existing brick building at the corner of Tyson st and Jennings st and convert it into a small office building and then build the new apartments next door and provide a shared parking lot for the two structures along Stone St (while not retail, this was mixed-use). The shared parking on this site, while appearing simple, was a very complex animal and fitting all the required elements into it was like trying to pass a hippo through a hula hoop. In order to get the parking to work on the site the building had to shift to the property edge and at that point the balconies and landscaping had to go along Tyson St. It was also discovered that the soil was not in as great of shape as initially determined (not surprising considering Sanitary Laundry is 100 feet away) so the foundation had to be redesigned and the building lifted and that ate away at the budget for the exterior elements that would have dressed up the building. At the end of the day, the developers and the design team really did want to provide an affordable option for people to live and work near downtown, and they were successful in that. The sacrifices that were made to the project were cosmetic for the sake of still delivering something that hasn’t yet been done in this neighborhood in decades, new construction residential housing along Central on a larger scale. I also suggest people go walk, bike, or drive to the site and take a look at it; its a dense urban feeling space with extremely close proximity to lots of nice restaurants and bars and a small garden courtyard is planned on the site between the two buildings so I feel it will be quite nice by the time the first tenant moves in.
    Clarification: I didn’t work on this design personally, but I do work for Design Innovation Architects.

  7. The rendering looked fantastic. The result looks like….a terrible late 70s prefab home but bigger. Corners were cut and the PILOT received means the city was deceived. I’m usually not one to poo poo new development, but this is…bad.

    • The final color won’t be the canary yellow. That is just the pre-finish on the board siding before it gets painted. If you look at image 5 in the lower corner of the building you will see the sample colors painted in a little color with the original rendering palette. I did an AIA walkthrough of the project recently and had the same concern about the color until they pointed this out. I do think the board and batten will look much nicer in the final product once the paint has been applied.

  8. Dan Howett says

    Interesting comments above. I live in the neighborhood, walk by this place on a regular basis, and have watched it come out of the ground.

    No, it’s not meant to be Regas or Sterchis, but these are well made and uniquely designed to create their own sense of community within our growing Old North Knox area.

    I look forward to having new residents join us at Crafty Bastard or any of many other fun places to gather in our neighborhood.

  9. Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.

    These buildings are in-your-face ugly, look like trailer park single-wides stacked atop one another, make no attempt to reflect the other neighborhood structures or character, and from every close observation I have made seem shoddily constructed top to bottom.

    The “Developer Talk” doublespeak may try to pass these off as something good for the neighborhood and city. But this is a Make a Quick Buck project if ever there was one.

    How the hell did this joke receive a PILOT?

    It is somehow appropriate that the buildings are across the street from Old Gray Cemetery. That sound you hear, Knoxville, is the muffled restlessness of hundreds of the long-dead rolling over in their graves.

    • “While retail or restaurant space was considered, the developers did not feel the area would sustain it at this time …”

      I’m so sick of developers saying this. The same was said back in the 1990s when Lerner Lofts was developed, and now you have a prime corner at Gay and Wall with ground floor residential instead of retail. The parking garage on Walnut … Marble Alley … etc, etc. First of all, that area will support restaurant/retail space. Secondly, even if it won’t yet they could build units in such a way that they could be easily converted down the line. It is a continual problem and developers always get away with it.

      • Retail is not meant for every new building that is built in the vicinity of downtown. If you desire to see retail locations a block off the commercial corridor, then I suggest you build one and see how that works out for you.

    • Sadly, I must agree. This development appears to be about as cheaply constructed as humanly (and legally) possible. I know the aim is for something affordable, but I shudder to think of what these will look like in 30 years. The contrast between this project and Regas Square, discussed yesterday, could not be more dramatic. This neighborhood deserves better.

      • I don’t even think they were aiming that hard for affordable, considering the 2 bedroom units are over $1,200, and they have washer and dryer included instead of just hookups. I desperately hope they do end up looking more like the renderings by at least getting rid of this horrid yellow.

        • Funny how people complain mostly about the color when in fact the yellow is unpainted fiber cement board paneling.

          • Yeah, I saw the other comments regarding this after I had already said something. All we can do at this point is hope for the best. Right now they look almost identical to The Hammond in West Knoxville

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