One Riverwalk Holds Grand Opening

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

It’s been long journey, but then it was a massive project. I think the first time I wrote about it the demolition had already begun and that was over five years ago. The project took some twists and turns along the way. Regal wasn’t involved when it started, for example, and then they wound up with one end of the development. Retail was included, then it wasn’t.

Vic Mills, Co-founder and CEO of Southeastern Development which developed One Riverwalk was on hand for the grand opening last night. Though the company is based in Augusta, Georgia, he is from Knoxville. He reminisced about graduating from Powell High and playing football in South Knoxville against South Doyle. He graduated from UT and founded the company over thirty years ago.

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

He also has a personal connection to the former Baptist Hospital. His grandmother was a cashier in the cafeteria which he noted was approximately in the same place where he stood to deliver his remarks. He also recalled sitting in Mayor Rogero’s office and looking across the river at the million-square-foot building and wondering if they were crazy to purchase it.

Mayor Rogero pointed out that the purchase, demolition and construction of One Riverwalk traces almost the entirety of her tenure as mayor, which she also noted has 85 days remaining. She said she has a view of the site from her office and watched it with binoculars as it evolved. She joked that she’d contact Vic if there were no workers present.

Lobby, One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

She also estimated that when the building is filled, there should be roughly 2,000 people living along the south waterfront. Most of those people weren’t there five years ago. If accurate, it makes the population just south of the river somewhere around half that of downtown proper. She said she anticipates the new population to be an impetus for business on the south side of the river.

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

Still to be completed is about 1100 feet of a public riverwalk between the new apartments and the river. Some light retail is anticipated to be located there and plans are underway to push it further to the east. There will also be a 37,000 square foot open-air event space between the new apartments and the Henley Bridge.

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

Vic Mills, One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

One Riverwalk has seen steady booking of its 300+ units. Opened last winter, the complex is now 65% full and 70% leased. Mr. Mills said that forty-three units were leased last month which is the largest number of units they’ve ever leased at one location in a month. Jordy Young, the leasing professional who gave me a tour of the two-bedroom unit shown in this article, said he plans to move there from west Knoxville when his lease is up.

The building contains a mix of one- and two-bedroom homes that range from 640 square feet for $1,365 per month to 1,213 square feet for $2,434 per month. A large pool, community room, and impressive workout room is available for use by residents. And then there is the view of the river, the University of Tennessee, and the city skyline which is unparalleled.

One Riverwalk, 221 E Blount Avenue, Knoxville, September 2019

While the absence of retail along Blount Avenue feels like a miss, the fact that we’ve been able to replace a million square feet of empty hospital space with housing for hundreds of downtown residents is a big win for the city. In combination with our most prominent company headquarters in the downtown area, it certainly feels like the beginning of much bigger things for the south side of the river.

Ed. Note: Consider stopping by the WDVX studio at the Knoxville Visitor Center at noon when I’ll join Juila Watts for conversation and reading on Wordstream, their Friday spotlight on writers.

Comments

  1. I have a question about a “drink tax” that is being added in certain restaurants, Kitchen 919 as an example, what is this and why, and is this legal?

    • Aaron Thompsom says

      I’m not sure why this question is on this article, but I can answer it for you. Restaurants and bars have the legal option to use what’s called inclusive tax or exclusive tax when they sell items. The Tennessee Department of Revenue charges a Liqour by the Drink tax in addition to State Sales Tax on all liqour, wine and high gravity beer. This translates to restaurants and bars paying 23% to the state for your Vodka Soda.

      The benefit for a restaurant or bar to show you the tax is more for them to track it properly. Think about when you buy gum at the gas station. There is sales tax on top of the purchase price. It’s the same with the “drink tax.”

      It’s relatively new for businesses around here to do it, but I’ve seen it a lot. It’s a way for a business to make their percentages on drinks by passing the tax burden onto the guests. Every other business does that same thing.

  2. $1365 for a 640 sq foot 1 bedroom? I pay less than that on a mortgage for an upscale house in Cambridge Woods in West Knoxville. Talk about throwing your money away, good lord.

    • My friends live here so I got to drop by a few weeks ago, and it’s very nice. In addition the the extremely nice units with even better views, they have a business center, a dog wash, an Amazon hub, clubhouse, pool, hot tub, and even more amenities that I can’t think of off the top of my head. Plus it’s a five minute walk to Gay Street. You can’t walk anywhere in five minutes stuck in a West Knoxville subdivision, so in my opinion it’s well worth it.

  3. When will they extend the river walk from CityView condos to the Henley bridge? Was told this was on the books to happen.

  4. Karyn Holbrook says

    Great update, Alan! Appreciate your efforts.

  5. Exciting to see what these residents will really want and/or need in the neighborhood. Very hopeful that the S Knox Kroger will get a much needed overhaul like the Bearden store did a few years ago. I’m honestly not sure what the obsession is with retail space in every new building. I often see these spaces unused in cities. The current retail climate is very much online and home delivery. There are tons of retail vacancies in S Knox already. Stores downtown are always going in and out, plus we can all see what’s happening to the malls. These retail spaces also creates the need for more parking, which is seriously lacking on the south side and Knoxville’s far from being a car free city. I love the urban mix of businesses and residents, but it kind of seems like a waste of space to build out retail when residential seems the priority right now.

  6. Thank you for the update, Alan. Hopefully the Kern project will start soon and that whole intersection area will be revitalized. Would love to see the old, shuttered Smokey Mtn Market building and car repair shop replaced.

  7. The combination of waterfront views and proximity to downtown is fantastic.

  8. Good to see this godzilla-size project finally finished. Should serve as a significant connection to SoKno.

  9. Not a huge issue, but I doubt he played football against South Doyle since S-D wasn’t formed until 1991.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I thought about that as I wrote it. I am certain that was my mistake and not his. Was it South High before that?

      • Stolen from Wiki – Young High School was established in 1913, followed by South High School in 1952 and Doyle High School in 1967. In 1976, Young and South were merged to form South-Young High School.

  10. There’s still plenty of space for retail there. They still own everything on the other side of the street, yes?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I believe so.

      • According to County records, they own the block on the southeast corner of Chapman Highway and Blount Avenue (5 parcels) plus a parcel behind the garage.

    • I could have sworn they originally had a mock up of some potential structures to go up on the other side of the road but it seemed like it wasn’t in the second round of mock up renderings. I don’t know if they were just added for effect of if there was really a plan there.

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