Knoxville aims to become outdoor recreation destination

Knoxville aims to become outdoor recreation destination

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The Gateway Center will be the new home of the adventure center. The Gateway Center will be the new home of the adventure center.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knoxville took the first step Tuesday to becoming an outdoor recreation destination.

Officials announced a three-pronged initiative to capitalize on the city's outdoor recreational assets. It includes a new adventure center, the Outdoor Knoxville website and a three-day festival this summer.

Whether you're into fishing, boating, biking or running, the adventure center will mean even more outdoor options.

If city council gives its approved next week, the vacant Gateway Pavilion Building at Volunteer Landing will be leased by Legacy Parks Foundation, a Knoxville-based non-profit. Legacy would operate the center in partnership with River Sports Outfitters.

People could rent boats, paddleboards and bikes at the center, which is the former KAT headquarters on Volunteer Landing Lane.

That's something avid runner Kristy Altman likes to hear. "This is just fantastic to be able to have the boats and the bike rentals and be able to come here as a one-stop shop, and then you can go and do things outside with your family and friends and be more active," she said.

Executive director Carol Evans says downtown Knoxville is an ideal location for the center.

"It made the perfect opportunity. It's on the edge of downtown. It's on the water front. The greenway passes within a couple hundred feet of that, and really as downtown Knoxville begins to spread out this is a logical location," she explained.

The adventure center will also house several businesses and it will have rooms available for the public to rent.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero hopes the adventure center will help make the city an outdoor destination, meaning more tourists and more revenue.

"It's going to create some new sales tax revenue. It will bring life back to the Gateway Building, which has been vacant for many years. And while it's been vacant, it's been costing city tax payers to maintain it," the mayor said.

The center is expected to open by mid-April.

It's a city addition Altman looks forward to. "We have a small child so it would be really fun to be able to bring him down on a bike and go for a ride on a Sunday afternoon and even do some of the water stuff we haven't done before," she said.

A festival called Outdoor KnoxFest is planned for August 24-26. It will feature a day-long adventure race, bike rides to a climbing wall, a trail run, guided trail hike and activities for kids.

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