By ALEXIS ZOTOS 6 News Reporter SEYMOUR (WATE) - Some of the most devastating images of the Oklahoma storm are of the two elementary schools turned to rubble, calling into question the safety ofMore >>
Tornado shelters are essentially vaults within the school walls. Regulated by FEMA, they are meant to withstand 200 mile per hour winds, the strength of an EF5 tornado.More >>
Two elementary schools were directly impacted by a massive tornado in the Oklahoma City area on Monday. It brings to mind a storm from a 1996 tornado which destroyed the Allardt Elementary School in Fentress County.More >>
Two elementary schools were directly impacted by a massive tornado in the Oklahoma City area on Monday. It brings to mind a storm from a 1996 tornado which destroyed the Allardt Elementary School in Fentress County. More >>
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Developer Buzz Goss has a vision for downtown Knoxville. It is a multi-million dollar mixed-used development known as Marble Alley.
It would create more urban space for coffee shops, bars, restaurants, lofts and entertainment venues, says Goss, making downtown Knoxville an altogether better place to live, work and play.
"It's going to be a great retail destination with lots of pedestrian walkways, alleys, lots of marble and just beautiful spaces," Goss said.
He says the name Marble Alley has some history.
It is the former name of a once popular alley in the late 1800s that now runs beside his office on Summit Hill Drive.
"In essence we are trying to learn form Market Square. What we're doing is creating a great public space, putting buildings on that and those buildings will have retail on the ground floor, offices on mid-levels and residential on the top," Goss says.
If Goss' plan works out the development would also create a pedestrian-friendly connection between South Gay Street and the Old City.
It is a much-needed connection, says Jeff DeAlejandro, one of the owners of The Crown and Goose, a restaurant and bar in the Old City.
"Of course it affects business great, but more so it will join together the downtown and the Old City to finally be together making it the city that Knoxville could be and potentially should be," says DeAlejandro.
Goss showed an aerial site map with a highlighted section representing his vision that leaves no room for empty or underused properties downtown.
He says he will create a curved path between State Street and South Central Street with a row of buildings and a plaza.
Today, that spot is the county-owned State Street garage.
Knox County commissioners voted unanimously to give Goss exclusive rights to the property for six years, starting in December 2009.
"The more movie tickets sold, the more restaurants people eat at, that's the more sales tax that comes into the city and the county," says Knox County Commissioner Sam McKenzie.
McKenzie represents District 1, which includes downtown Knoxville.
The estimated cost for the development is between $91 million and $104 million.
It will likely include the construction of 10 buildings, as well as the renovation of several other buildings like the old JC Penney building on South Gay Street.
"It's a big project, but it's lot of little pieces that line up together, and that is why over time it's very doable," says David Dewhirst, another downtown developer, who owns Dewhirst Properties.
Dewhirst owns property that will act as key pieces for Marble Alley.
He has watched as Goss' black and white designs have been filled in with color detailing a retail arcade and more.
Goss says he has the support of multiple developers, investors and community leaders who want to see a larger, more vibrant downtown.
"It would be extremely important for downtown. It is extremely difficult to do, and I think it can be done, but it is not going to happen overnight," says Knoxville Chamber President and CEO Mike Edwards.
It is something Goss says is well aware of.
The workload will be shared, and likely, one building will go up at a time.
"We hope to announce the first major building sometime late spring, early summer, and start construction by the end of the year, while I'll admit starting construction by the end of the year is an ambitious goal," says Goss.
An ambitious goal no doubt, but one that will help Goss make Marble Alley a reality within the next five to ten years.