Parking Garage Slated for Demolition, View from State Street, Knoxville, January 2024
It’s an interesting downtown structure in that, while massive, you’ve probably never noticed it unless you park there. Additionally, it’s a garage on State Street, but it isn’t the State Street Garage (no one is tearing that down any time soon). Also interesting is that for all the ink (or pixels) that have been spent on Pryor Brown, that’s not the one being knocked down (yet).
The garage in question faces State Street to the south, although it would be easy to assume State Street has ended and it faces an alley of sorts, and that’s the entrance point for cars. It sits just beside the Old City Performing Arts Center and a large portion is behind that building. It is slightly visible from Jackson Avenue (its north side), but only through a small parking lot that probably held a building at one time. Its rear lines the Fire Street Alley and the south side runs along an alley behind OP Jenkins. That side has a sign of indeterminant vintage for Hertz, with an arrow pointing east.
Owned by Boghani Properties, whose acquisition of the garage came jointly with the purchase of the Emporium building in December 2022, the properties are managed by the Jackson Central, LLC. Garage demolition will begin immediately, perhaps today and demolition and removal will likely take a couple of weeks.
I walked around inside the garage and large amounts of standing water from the leaks from the roof covered sections of the floor. The group had looked into replacing the roof, but they were told the process would collapse walls, particularly the one on the north side, which stands at an obvious angle that is not perpendicular to the ground.
Given the dire outlook for the walls and the difficulty, if not impossibility to replacing the roof, the decision was made to remove the building. Customers were vacated temporarily for the work to be done. That work will include re-surfacing the space after the demolition and re-striping it for parking. In the near term, the spot will resume its function as parking, but without a covering. With the structure removed, more spaces will be possible. The hope is that they will be available in March.
Is that the end of the story? I think most anyone with downtown’s best interest at heart would hope not and I understand long range plans likely will include development of some kind. It’s hard to imagine that a prime spot in the center of the Old City would remain a parking lot for long. Perhaps when interest rates begin to drop making development more affordable, we’ll begin to see some movement at this prime location.