KNOXVILLE, Tenn . (WATE) — We have seen a lot of change in downtown Knoxville over the past decade and there is more to come.
Several businesses that have been staples downtown have moved out and new businesses are moving in. City leaders say it is all part of the “ebb and flow” of a downtown area.
It seems like everywhere you look a new business is popping up in Downtown Knoxville. In fact, in 2022, over a dozen came to the area. This is all part of Knoxville’s plan to make downtown a destination place for people to come and enjoy.
“Downtown was the place we wanted to be,” said Ryan Pruitt the owner of Frothy Monkey, an all-day cafe that is one of many new businesses on Gay Street.
They have several other locations in Middle Tennessee and one in Alabama.
“Knoxville’s been on our list for quite a while. It’s been a process of probably about four years for us to find the right location in Knoxville,” Pruitt said.
City of Knoxville Downtown Coordinator Rick Emmett said they have been working hard with developers to make improvements to the area. Their work is visibly paying off.
“Property values have just taken off. That’s been reported many many times. Most recently our most recent property assessment came out and I think a lot of people were pleasantly surprised. Some of them were shocked property values have gone up,” Emmett said.
Emmett adds that new tourism opportunities and the walkability of downtown have enticed developers to spend the extra cash on these prime properties.
Nick McCall worked for a business downtown for over 25 years. He still comes to the area frequently.
“I think what I like about Knoxville downtown is it is a town or a city with a small-town feel. It feels that way. It’s accusable, there’s a lot going on, having first moved here in 1994 I’ve seen it change a lot,” McCall said.
It’s an exciting time for new businesses and those who frequent downtown but McCall said that as the business continues to boom parking needs to keep up,
“If we are going to be able to sustain growth particularly downtown but I’d speak for the general Knoxville area, parking for downtown remains an issue. It’s not as bad as it was. Certainly when the langley garage opened not far from here several years ago, that improved downtown parking significantly.”
Emmett said that parking is a priority issue for the city.
He adds that some of the things people can look forward to seeing downtown in the near future are a couple of boutique hotels. Apart from Gay Street and market square, he said the Old City is another area that will continue to see major changes, including the new multi-purpose stadium.