Current Construction on the North Side of Downtown

City House Town Homes, Vine Avenue, Knoxville, February 2020

As promised last week when we took a tour of south side construction, today we’ll take a turn through the north end of downtown and look at some of the major construction there.

First up is the construction on top of the hill, a Hatcher-Hill a project I most recently wrote about here. With the completion of Ryan’s Row at 535 Vine Avenue, the townhomes at City House occupy a spot long intended for homes. A short thirty-three years after Kristopher Kendrick began development of townhomes in this area, Ryan’s Row extends the residential units along Vine Avenue.

The homes have roof-top decks, two-car garages, and other amenities hard to come by in an urban area. They also have commanding views of downtown and the Smoky Mountains to the south and Sharps Ridge to the north. In addition to the approximately 500 square feet of outdoor space allotted to each unit, owners will enjoy about 3,000 square feet of interior space, or about two-to-four times more than most homes in downtown Knoxville.

City House Town Homes, Vine Avenue, Knoxville, February 2020

A number of readers were quick to criticize the design and location, pointing out that it is near the train yard and interstate. Regarding the design, readers said it felt cold and austere. Of course, that was based on the rendering. I have to confess to liking the (near) finished product much more than the rendering. The actual brick is darker than the color used on the rendering. Additionally, the wood finishes around the entrances give the final product a warmer feel than the rendering.

Jackson Avenue Ramps West Side, Knoxville, February 2020

Jackson Avenue Ramps East Side, Knoxville, February 2020

Just down the hill and a block to the north are the Jackson Avenue Ramps. Talked about for years, it seemed construction would never arrive. Once it did, the demolition moved very quickly. Crews are now working on the infrastructure that will go beneath the ramps. My observation on other projects is that this phase takes the longest and shows the least amount of obvious change.

After this phase, changes will be easily spotted, and the project will likely move much faster. The projected finish date is summer of 2021. The most recent information and much greater detail on the project may be found here.

Broadway Viaduct Demolition, Knoxville, February 2020

Broadway Viaduct Demolition, Knoxville, February 2020

To the west of this site, and visible from the Gay Street viaduct, is the much more massive and involved Broadway Viaduct replacement project. This project was discussed for well over a decade (or two?) and eventually became a joke. Until it wasn’t. Demolition began at about the same time as the Jackson Avenue Ramps, and the project also seems to be moving along rapidly, with most of the old viaduct gone.

That said, the project is much larger in scale and much more complex, given the rail tracks running through the site. The same company is working both projects and the projected completion date for this project is late summer of 2022. Details of this project may be found here.

Future Home of Stockyard Lofts, Willow Avenue, Knoxville, February 2020

Future Home of Stockyard Lofts, Willow Avenue, Knoxville, February 2020

Finally, Stockyard Lofts, located on Willow Avenue have gotten underway after considerable delay. First announced here (and described in detail) in July 2017, the 152 unit apartment building was originally set to have been completed last year. Instead, due to regulatory delays, the project didn’t get underway until late in 2019.

Original projections said the project could be completed within eighteen months of the beginning of construction, which would put the new completion date sometime in mid-2021. The stage that once sat in the space has been removed, the parking lot has been dug up and foundation work has begun. Recent rains formed a small lake in the depression dug for the foundation, which, ironically, is in a spot that used to be underwater for much of the year, according to Jack Neely’s recent book on Old City history.


  1. I remember the article about the townhouses, and I’m glad I was right about the finished product looking better than the rendering. They’re building some very similar on Sutherland, but of course nobody can get there from the West side because the powers that be decided to delay the Hollywood project another three months. Somewhat off topic, but same side of town. Has anything gone into the first level of Regas Square yet? I still feel like that would be the most logical place for a grocery store due to the size.

    • No. I have seen no activity in any of the retail at the bottom of the building and go by it daily. I guess I’m curious if the gentleman who lived under the west side of Jackson Ave construction will ever return. I can see his boarded up garage in the picture. What a unique place to live. I agree those townhouses on vine look way better in real life versus the rendering. I think the main thing for me is that the bricks have multiple shades and the renderings were a flat color. I really like the contrast to the wood at the entry way.

      Mark living next to those tracks for years and I can tell you the only thing you won’t like, or will notice is when they hook and unhook carts at 4 am it can be quit loud from the brakes screaming. I just learned to roll over and go back to sleep.

  2. My wife and I are the first residents of City House townhouses. We love the location, with its view of the rail yard, the Interstate and the mountains. Hatcher Hill (no relation to us) has done a top notch job on the construction. We are so glad that this project is contemporary and not, as has been wished for by some, an odd copy of the brownstones of long ago.

    • do you know that you basically next to a homeless shelter there at summit towers? and that the homeless are currently all over that area. i was just wondering…….

      • Paul, I wish you would inform the management of Summit Towers that it is a “homeless shelter” because I’ve been paying rent here for 13 years, the place I consider my home. For the record, Summit Towers is HUD subsidized housing for adults, seniors and/or disabled who pay rent based on their income and who are able to live independently. A few facts which may interest readers: 1 in 4 Knoxville residents live in poverty because they can’t find living-wage jobs which enables them to afford rent. Gentrification of neighborhoods of which the condos being discussed are an example have displaced people in these areas where rent was once affordable and many low-income people are 1 or 2 paychecks away from being out on the street. Do you know anyone who is homeless or have you ever had a conversation with someone who is? There are many reasons why people become homeless, so before you demonize those folks, maybe you should have a conversation with them and learn their stories instead of looking down on them as you have done. I feel fortunate to have a nice apt. in such a great location that I can afford. Btw, homeless people are in every location, not just downtown.

  3. Man those condos are just as ugly as the final rendering showed. Yeesh.

  4. “They also have commanding views of downtown and the Smoky Mountains to the south and Sharps Ridge to the north” – lollllll

    OK, so to be fair, the real pictures are a slight improvement over the renderings.. But like Geoffrey Stokes famously put it ““Listen, you can’t polish a turd”.

  5. The Reverend says

    The lofts look incredible. That brick looks incredible. The architects did an amazing job and deserve recognition. The builder is executing in high fashion. For all the folks who don’t see it this way, study up on design, planning, architecture, and building. And all this jazz about renderings and such, p-p-p-p-p-please, renderings are for the plebes. High design execution is the name of the game. Architecture and design is the only serious profession where everybody is town gets to have an opinion, rarely does anyone tell their doctor, lawyer, or accountant how to do their job and how they did it wrong. Those other professions don’t get renderings, you just receive a large bill to pay. Mazel Tov Amigos!!!
    -The Reverend

  6. The Reverend says

    fair enough…

  7. I noticed under your page on Facebook, you conveniently didn’t add a picture of the condos in your article article post- just a link. Nice work to avoid people trashing the condos in the comment section.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      No. I am traveling and had to use my phone to post. I was quite frustrated that for some reason it did not post the photograph. It did when I posted to the other groups. You are completely wrong and that is a sadly negative assumption.

  8. Hideous.

    • As the first buyer at City House (and a very happy resident), it is interesting to read how negatively the architecture of this project is received by some Knoxvillians. I understand that traditional design is comfortable and comforting to some. Luckily for those folks, this town is full of traditional architecture. Look at any housing development built after the last bit of contemporary residential development in West Hills 50 years ago. Check out the recently constructed Sorority village. The UT campus is awash in faux Collegiate Gothic. The administration now dictates that everything from parking garages to dorms to classroom and athletic buildings looks (sort of) like the old buildings in an 18th century English town. But some of us are thankful for the Arts and Architecture and the Natalie Haslam Music Building for challenging us with new and fresh ways to look at and live in buildings.Before judging modern and innovative design, the viewer might take a moment and consider that good architecture can have many different forms.

      • I don’t care whether something is traditional or not. Just look good. Elkmont exchange isn’t traditional. The Oakroom by Abridged isn’t traditional. The Tombras Building renovations aren’t traditional. The Natalie Haslam Music building looks great and certainly isn’t traditional. They all look exceptional and have inherent beauty. The same cannot be said about those hideous townhouses. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’m glad you enjoy it and found beauty in it. I just didn’t.

  9. Hey Alan I think you mean the ramps will be done Summer 2020, not 2021. Or at least by Fall right? I have a kid’s wedding in October at the Terminal and have talked to the city about this a few times, they’re pretty confident it will be done then.

  10. I like the townhouses. I think it’s good to have architecture that people disagree about (with civility, of course).

  11. What is going to happen when the million dollar condos slide down the hill ?

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