Downtown Knoxville continuing to grow with engineering firm, architect collaborations

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Despite a name change, a local company will continue to have the same goals, one of those being to help revitalize downtown.

CSA Knoxville, a structural engineering company, announced Tuesday that it’s new name will be Haines Structural Group.

“We are rebranding to strengthen our commitment to this community and to clearly define who we are and who we have always been,” Bobby Haines, the owner of Haines Structural Group, said.

The company has been a part of several projects in downtown, hoping the rebuilt structures will bring in more life to the area.

Haines said Regas Square was one of his most recent revitalization projects that came to life.

Haines said he loves walking in downtown now with his family, but the area was very different 10 years ago.

“Market Square was starting to come back, but it was right after the recession,” Haines said. “When we were in downtown at that point, there wasn’t a lot of activity at night in downtown. There was still the business community, but there just wasn’t a lot of vibrancy to downtown.”

Haines said his company helps rebuild older buildings after architects reach out with their ideas.

Robyn McAdoo, an architect with Dollar & Ewers Architecture, said she also remembered the Old City and Market Square as lackluster when she graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2001.

“I think with a lot of the efforts, both with private development and with encouragement from the city — you know, we’ve got Knox Heritage, we’ve got (Central Business Improvement District) — we’ve got all these organizations that give so much support to businesses and developers who want to do good things with old buildings that add so much to the value of a downtown area,” McAdoo said.

McAdoo and her company know about how to rebuild downtown Knoxville firsthand. Her company’s building used to be an old antique facility.

Both McAdoo and Haines said the main challenge with revitalizing downtown is figuring out how to improve the old structures and make them safe.

“Nobody wants to seismically upgrade a building and spend all their money doing that and have nothing left over to actually make it a wonderful space to live and play in. So, the challenges for us, I think, is just dealing with the old infrastructure,” Haines said.

He said once an architect reaches out with their idea of the old building, his group goes in and figures out how to change the underlying structure for compatibility and safety.

Haines and his company helped restructure the Hyatt Place Hotel, Regas Square, Balter Beerworks and more in downtown.

Mixed-use structures are a large part of the revitalization projects. They create attractive business space on the bottom floors with intriguing living space on the upper floors.

Haines said the future of downtown Knoxville is bright with more projects, such as rebuilding the old Supreme Courthouse building, planned.

Plans for the old courthouse also include mixed-use space.

McAdoo said she’s happy with the current growth of downtown and the mix of residential and commercial developments, but more mixed-use structures are needed if the area wants to continue to grow.

“(Downtown) has a good mixed-use, but that is a thing that I think could be improved in some ways. Just for example: a grocery store, things like that. That’s something that people have said for years and I know there’s been some attempts,” McAdoo said.

She said if more businesses and residential spaces move in, then more parking would be needed.

As of right now, both McAdoo and Haines said parking is adequate.

McAdoo said there is plenty of parking that many people don’t know about, such as parking a little further away from downtown and using the trolley to get within walking distance.

Haines said the north side of downtown is the next up and coming area, especially with the older buildings on Central Avenue and Emory Place.

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