Sunday, August 24 2014 12:56 AM EDT2014-08-24 04:56:42 GMT
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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - An iconic sign in downtown Knoxville is going through some changes. Crews Tuesday removed a portion of the old Regas Restaurant sign that sits on top of the former restaurant on North Gay Street.
The historic sign has stood along Interstate 40 for decades, even lasting four years after the restaurant closed its doors.
"It's part of our Knoxville history," said Chris Martin, president of the Knoxville Leadership Foundation. "We're not going to change the Regas look or any of that. It will be the same look, just the word 'restaurant' will be changed to 'square.'"
The change in the sign is just a small sign of bigger changes to come.
Martin says the Leadership Foundation will be taking over the building and creating a new program called Better Non-profits that will use the building as a training space for other non-profits.
"Non-profits will be able to get better at what they do, find more resources here, have access to a clearing house of resources and all kinds of activities that will help them with the missions that they have," said Martin.
The building won't be the only thing keeping the Regas name. The Gathering Place lounge that use to be inside the restaurant will re-open as a diner.
"The Gathering Place will be open to the public and it will just be a place for folks to come and get a cup of coffee and work on their Wi-Fi computers and get a sandwich," said Martin.
Even as the letters come down, Martin says it’s only the beginning of a new chapter for the Regas history one he hopes will help bring back this section of downtown.
In the future, the developer of this 2.2 acre site also hopes to add more retail, shops and possibly even a grocery store.
The foundation hopes to move into the building sometime in the next six to eight months