Downtown Knoxville summit to address future development

Downtown Knoxville summit to address future development

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Knoxville wants to hear from residents about the future of downtown redevelopment. The city is holding a Downtown Summit for the first time in about five years. Knoxville wants to hear from residents about the future of downtown redevelopment. The city is holding a Downtown Summit for the first time in about five years.
Developers tell 6 News the city has been successful in drawing in a permanent residency base with new apartments and bringing in new restaurants, especially in Market Square. Developers tell 6 News the city has been successful in drawing in a permanent residency base with new apartments and bringing in new restaurants, especially in Market Square.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knoxville wants to hear from residents about the future of downtown redevelopment. The city is holding a Downtown Summit for the first time in about five years.

The Downtown Summit will get underway at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the East Tennessee History Center. City officials say they are expecting a decent crowd.

They say they want everyone from residents to business owners downtown to take part and share their visions for the area. It's an all encompassing summit that will cover all things downtown, particularly redevelopment. 

The city says it plans to detail changes in the past and present and outline the area's decade-long evolution into a bustling downtown.

Some residents and businesses say there are still problems that need to be addressed including limited parking and poor signage. Both are issues they hope the city will discuss at the summit.

Developers tell 6 News the city has been successful in drawing in a permanent residency base with new apartments and bringing in new restaurants, especially in Market Square.

However, developers believe the city still lacks retail, often making it a destination for a specific activity or event instead of having a constant influx of people.

The city says it's still working on improvements downtown, but stresses it has come a long way. The purpose of Tuesday night's summit is to identify future goals and possible challenges.

"Our vision is really to keep on the momentum that we've started, provide infrastructure opportunities when we can to help foster future development, try to help developers as best we can in their developments," said Rick Emmett, Downtown Knoxville coordinator.

"Right now, downtown is a secondary shopping market," said Tim Hill.

Hill is the co-owner of Hatcher Hill Properties. His company has been working on development downtown for the past decade. One of his projects includes transforming the former KUB building.

He says while the city has made great strides in revitalizing the area, he believes there's still more that needs to be done.

"The retail has lagged somewhat. I think we're in the infancy of retail, and we hope to see that take off the residential and restaurant section did downtown," he said.

Hill says for now, many people come downtown for a specific event or activity because it doesn't yet act as a primary shopping market. He says that's one of the goals he's hoping the city will discuss during the summit.

The city says redevelopment is far from over, but stresses it has come a long way in the past ten years.

"Almost every block of the city downtown has been touched by some sort of a building renovation or infrastructure improvement," said Emmett.

The city will give a presentation on the different redevelopment projects happening downtown. There will be a panel discussion with developers and plenty of time for questions and comments from the public.

The event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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