Jackson Avenue Redevelopment
Sharing my comments in response to a survey from the City of Knoxville:
The City of Knoxville seeking public ideas and input for redevelopment of City-owned properties on the 400 and 500 blocks of West Jackson Avenue, including the Jackson Avenue Parking Lot and the site of the former McClung Warehouses. Please give us your thoughts on any or all of the following questions:
1. USE: What kind of development would you like to see along that corridor? i.e., residential, retail, office, other?
Office space at ground floor leads to closed shops in the evening. There should be an emphasis on businesses at ground floor open in the evening when people are free to be downtown. This can create an inviting corridor that safely conveys pedestrians from the Old City towards World’s Fair Park and vice-versa. The low volume of traffic makes a good opportunity for window shopping and patios.
USE: What kind of development would you like to see along that corridor? i.e., residential, retail, office, other?
2. FORM: What architectural and design characteristics are important to you? What should the development look like? How should it relate to its surroundings? i.e. a few big buildings, many smaller buildings, a mix?
With the loss of the McClung buildings, there’s an opportunity to incorporate modern design elements. The Knoxville Convention Center’s World’s Fair Park facade is a good template for incorporating light weight design elements that can balance the industrial heft of Jackson Avenue’s border with the rail yard and Interstate viaduct. All design should consider that the area is highly visible from the Interstate and may provide many passers-by their only impression of Knoxville. Public art such as murals, mosaics, or colored lighting cast on interesting metalwork is highly appropriate.
FORM: What architectural and design characteristics are important to you? What should the development look like? How should it relate to its surroundings? i.e. a few big buildings, many smaller buildings, a mix?
3. PUBLIC AMENITIES: What kinds of public amenities would you like to see incorporated into private redevelopment of the area?
This formerly was a warehouse district for loading and unloading via rail. The L&N station and Southern Railway formerly provided regional transportation for Knoxville. Jackson avenue’s proximity to abandoned rail infrastructure makes it an ideal connecting “hub” for a local heavy rail system connecting to the Knoxville & Holston River Railroad’s lease, which extends to John Sevier Highway along the French Broad, and reaches deep into South Knoxville as far as Ijams Nature Center. A high speed rail link from Atlanta to Chattanooga to Knoxville may someday be an option – Jackson will be the hub for transportation as it was before. This possibility should be not only preserved but actively pursued.
4. OTHER COMMENTS: Anything else you would like to add?
The space between the railroad and Jackson should incorporate a greenway that travels *under* Gay Street , parallel to the railroad right-of-way, and *under* Broadway to connect to World’s Fair Park. Jackson at Gay Street should provide a welcoming atmosphere for interpretation of Knoxville’s “underground” rather than the frightening scene presented today. TDOT needs to be more open about their designs for the Broadway viaduct so the public can provide input.