Business and Development Updates: Whatever Happened To . . .

Site of Country Music Park, Corner of Summit and Gay, Knoxville, May 2023
Site of Country Music Park, Corner of Summit and Gay, Knoxville, May 2023

As I did near the end of last month, I’m passing along a few morsels I’ve collected about businesses and development projects. Sometimes there isn’t much to say other than there are a lot of details to bringing a project to fruition and the wheels are grinding. Other times, plans have fallen away and the owners or developers are moving on. I took note last time of the comments you made regarding updates you’d like to have. Feel free to leave more this time and I’ll try to track down what I can.

The Sculpture at Country Music Park (Corner of Summit and Gay)

We have simultaneous construction projects on the 200 block of Gay Street, a sentence that could not have been imagined a generation ago, or even ten years ago. On the western side, we have Lone Tree Pass, which I updated in last month’s article. Now construction fencing has been erected on the eastern side where, according to the city’s website on the park, we should see a new sculpture, “Pier 865,” by early 2024.

The project has been controversial in several directions, but now it’s on its way and I hope it becomes a beloved Knoxville icon. You can read more about it here. With new construction on each side of the block, the look of downtown will definitely change and a partial restoration of Gay Street will be a reality, making downtown increasingly feel like a connected whole after the damage of previous decades.

Brown Appliance Building, Central Street, June 2021
Former Home of Brown Appliance, Future Home of Axle Logistics, 854 North Central Street, Knoxville, May 2023

Brown Appliance Building (854 North Central)

We wrote about plans for this location last November. Owned by Axle Logistics, the company plans to build on the site to expand its footprint on Central. The five story building planned for the site will provide workspace for about 900 employees. The project appears to be moving forward as the two buildings on the block were recently demolished, making way for construction.

New Second Home to Axle Logistics, 300 Block of West Magnolia, Knoxville, May 2023

Speaking of Axle . . . 

The same article mentioned above, also included news of plans to bring about 200 employees to the 300 block of West Magnolia in the development owned by John Macready and John Roethlisberger. The intent is for the temporary location to house the employees during construction at 854 North Central. Work appears to be virtually complete there now, with work stations set to go and computers in place. The logo now rests on the front glass and a very large sign bearing the company’s logo has been erected to be visible from I-40.

115 East Jackson Avenue, Knoxville, February 2023
115 Jackson, Former Home of Willow Creek Antiques, Future Home of the Excelsior, Knoxville, May 2023

Demolition at 115 East Jackson

In February I reported that an Old City building, most recently housing Willow Creek Antiques, was planned for demolition in favor of a new, larger, multi-use building called the Excelsior. According to the website, “The building will be home to a mix of uses including residential apartments, a boutique hotel, a restaurant, a bar, and a few other exciting amenities.”  Knox Heritage expressed concern, while the owner insisted the building had to be removed in favor of the larger project.

The building has subsequently been removed leaving the lot vacant back to the White Lily silos. I reached out to owner Jim Klonaris for any information on the advent of construction. He said they are still working on final plans, but rising interest rates and other variables have slowed the timetable. As he said, “In a short word, pausing.”

Pryor Brown Garage, Market and Church, Knoxville, June 2016

Pryor Brown Garage Demolition

Just in case you thought Pryor Brown had avoided the wrecking ball, not so. The city recently released a statement confirming the owners (Ephant Group) had been issued a permit to demolish the structure located at the corner of Market Street and Church Avenue. The demolition, projected to take up to a week may proceed any time during the next year. According to the release, “The only limitation to the owners of the property is a City Council prohibition on using the footprint of the existing garage for additional surface parking, which was put in place by a previous Council during Mayor Madeline Rogero’s tenure in office.”

Rumors abound of a major project on the block, but no plans have been announced.

808 State Street, Knoxville, July 2020

The Outpost

I’m often asked about an article I wrote nearly two years ago detailing a concert series and a new downtown music venue, The Outpost, to be located at 808 State Street. Born and Raised Productions announced the plans and they have continued to be active in the local concert scene. I recently reached out to Garrett Thomson, co-owner of the company with Kent Oglesby to see if he might provide an update. Here is his reply:

The building on 808 state street has effectively been put on hold because the owner of the building had to divert funds, resources and attention to a new building for his current business because of displacement for the baseball field. So while that building is still an option for the future, we are currently pursuing all leads for a building for our business to move into.
I think ultimately it is a good thing for Born & Raised Productions. It has allowed us more time to grow our business and we are on pace for a record year for Born & Raised. We are bringing more music to Pretentious Beer Co. and Yee-Haw Brewing Co. We are training new employees as talent buyers and event planners. We are also expanding our silent disco business pretty aggressively. Southern Skies Music Festival has expanded to two days and Brewfest is set up to have one of its biggest years. We have plenty to focus on in the near future.
We are still searching for a space for music to live in Knoxville and I’m confident that space will present itself at the right time. We are open to ideas if there are buildings for sale or rent that we haven’t looked at yet. We have a clear demand from fans that Knoxville wants and needs this space. We just need the building.
So, there you go. Probably not coming to State Street, but they are interested in any ideas you might have.
Ed. Note: This concludes the current updates. Watch for more, as this seems to be a good way to get out the small bits that come my way. As always, feel free to express any opinions about the projects, but refrain from attacking those involved. I’ll delete your comment if you do.

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