KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new development is bringing more to see and do in downtown Knoxville. The $30-million project is under construction, designed to connect the parts of Gay Street that are separated by a busy intersection.
The state-of-the-art design is called “Lone Tree Pass.” It transforms the former surface parking lot into 57 condominiums and 22,000 square feet of shops and restaurants.
The whole idea behind the project is to get people visiting the 300 block of Gay Street to cross Summit Hill and go on toward the 200 block. Now, there’ll be plenty to see and do there.
Crossing busy Summit Hill Drive on foot is frankly a pain for many. Developer and Hatcher-Hill Properties founder Tim Hill said it’s all about making people feel more connected downtown.
“In 1974, we had a Summit Hill redevelopment project that basically took a four-lane road through the middle of our downtown, so it bisected our downtown,” Hill said. “And this was intentional in the fact that we wanted to create curiosity to get people to come to the 300 block, look over the four-lane great divide, and say, ‘this is worthy of crossing that street.’ “
The site sits next to the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the corner of Gay Street and Summit Hill. Renderings show there will be lots of room for retail, restaurants, patios, and people.
“We have two buildings,” Hill said. “The west building is seven stories and the building facing Gay Street is three stories.”
The building site doesn’t look big, and it’s really not. It’s well under an acre.
“Just to give you some sense of urban development versus suburban development,” Hill explained. “If I took this very project. which is on a half-acre of land, and took it to suburbia, and laid it out horizontally, it would take over 22 acres to develop this very project.”
Hill leaves us with this perspective when it comes to downtown development, “the center city should be the pride of all Knoxvillians and it’s also a great visitor place, so I consider it our playground for all the residents of Knoxville and Knox County and surrounding areas, so you don’t want a donut hole.”
Lone Tree Pass is expected to open in 2025 to coincide with the completion of the new multi-use stadium.
What’s behind the name Lone Tree Pass?
It’s a tribute to Cal Johnson, known as Knoxville’s first black millionaire, the owner of a nearby saloon called “Lone Tree” back in the late 1800s into the early 1900s.