Dominion Project Planned for the North Bank Beside the South Knoxvile Bridge
A public event was held Monday afternoon highlighting a number of south Knoxville projects in various stages of planning, construction, or near completion. The event was open from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm and I expected a couple of dozen interested people looking at a half-dozen or so projects. I was very wrong. Hundreds were there by 4:30 and I can only guess the crowd grew as more people got off work. And projects? I’m not sure how many there were, but it was far more than I realized.
I had to focus on a few projects with more direct implications for downtown. The details I was able to secure was limited given the nature of the event, but I hope to have follow-up articles on some of the most impactful. I wasn’t able to get photographs of them all and some of the photographs aren’t great quality as I had to steal a moment when I could shoot around people at targets often displayed at severe angels. Still, I thought you’d all enjoy a glimpse of several projects.
We’ll start with the Urban Wilderness Gateway Park since that is where a lot of emphasis has been placed in recent years. As you can see in the photo above, the first phase, costing $3.6 million has been completed, essentially connecting the terminus of James White Parkway to Baker Creek Bottoms and beyond to the larger Urban Wilderness.
The pavilion pictured at the top of these two photographs is currently under construction at the Baker Creek Bottoms site, giving users access to restrooms and other amenities. At a cost of $2.67 million, it will include restrooms beside the parking area there. It should be completed later this year. The pavilion pictured just above this paragraph will be constructed at the terminus of James White, and the beginning of the current greenway. Currently under design, it isn’t set to begin construction until later this year or in early 2024.
In the two pictures above, you’ll see a larger frame of how the Urban Wilderness Gateway Park connects to the larger Urban Wilderness. The widest frame above shows the ultimate connection over the South Knoxville Bridge, a section that will not be completed for some time. The current best connection to the wilderness for bikers or walkers is over the Gay Street Bridge and out Sevier. I was told at the meeting that the bridge portion is currently under design and won’t likely begin until at least next year. Once the bridge section is completed, access will be available from the greenway along the northern side of the river.
In the second photo above, you see a closer-framed illustration of the next phase of the greenway, connecting the Gateway Park, alongside the parkway toward the bridge. This should be the next phase of the plan that gets attention after the construction of the pavilion which is underway. It will involve removing an off-ramp from James White going north and a search for funding is currently underway.
The first photo above this paragraph (one of the worst – sorry) is of the proposed roundabout at Sevier and Foggy Bottom, sort of the crown jewel of the Sevier Avenue Streetscape Project. The most recent projected completion date I could find for that project was the end of 2023. The next photo is of the projections of the trail from Blount Avenue, into the rear of the Kerns property and running out the rail line, which will be converted to a trail leading to the Urban Wilderness from the west.
Currently conceived as an Art Trail, with both nature and art along the corridor, it also runs along behind restaurants and breweries, making it an attractive destination when it is completed. Several businesses along Sevier are working together on a May Day Festival on Saturday, May 6, to help raise money for the construction of the trail. Carol Evans, Executive Director of Legacy Parks, was on hand at the event and told me the organization needs to raise $1 million for the project and has, thus far, raised about $300,000.
In the two photos above, you can see the plans for improvements at Augusta Quarry, which is just off Chapman Highway at the foot of the hill down from Fort Dickerson. Already a popular spot, improvements are planned which should make it much more welcoming changing rooms, restrooms, a vending pavilion and new platforms around the edge of the quarry and in the middle. Underground utilities are expected to be installed in 2023, with the final design and construction of the amenities coming in 2024.
The Livano Project is just outside the area I normally cover, but not by a long distance, and I found it interesting. It’s an indication of the size of the projects headed our way. Intended primarily as student housing and sitting just across the river from Neyland Stadium, the project will include 348 units. It will also be close to the planned pedestrian bridge and, coming from the east (the Chapman Highway side), it is next to City View Apartments on Blount Avenue. Ground up construction should be visible this spring and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.
Meanwhile, back on the eastern side of Chapman (where I spend more time), I’ve been asked about the property at the corner of southeastern corner of Chapman and Blount, which is pictured above. A rendering of the planned building was displayed, but I was asked not to take a picture of it as the design is still subject to change. This project is also planned for student housing and includes about 200 units. A nod to retail on the corner was included in the rendering, which doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a part of the final product. The projected completion date for this project is 2024.
South Banks at Suttree Landing is well underway and, as the name states, it is literally “at Suttree Landing,” just across from the main thoroughfare in the park. The first block of this development should be completed in May 2023, just a few months from now. The entire project, which is projected to be completed by the end of this year, will include 230 apartments.
Another Dominion Project, of which I was unaware, is planned for the former commercial site (I think General Shale Brick used to be there?) on the north side of the river beside James White Parkway. While not technically in south Knoxville or in downtown, it is south of downtown, but along the river. This will be a massive development with 350 units and, according to what I was told, a retail corridor of its own down the middle. It’s a perfect spot to head across the bridge for the Urban Wilderness and it’s an easy walk down the greenway to downtown. I assume it will not be pink.
So, there you have it. In addition to all the south Knoxville businesses we’ve written about lately, there are a lot of apartments and other development coming to that side of the city. And that’s not mentioning Kerns, plus another development which was just announced. I’ll have that story in the next few days.