KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Construction crews began the demolition of the Mac Auto Loans building on West Fifth Avenue this week, and a new development is set to take its place.
Bluedog Capital Partners bought the property in May and has plans to build a roughly $40 million apartment complex in its place. Sarah Harris, director of acquisitions and investments, has a personal connection to the original building. Her grandfather’s janitorial business worked with the auto loans company when it was still open.
“With my grandfather being close with the current owners and developers of the building, he started working with them and cleaning after hours. My father grew up working with my grandfather in the building,” Harris said.
She hoped to develop the original building, but infrastructure problems made tearing it down the best option.
“Unfortunately with the amount of asbestos and all the environmental hazards inside it, it just wasn’t economically feasible to try and save it,” Harris said.
Harris wants to preserve the memory of the original building, starting with its new name. The apartments will be called Mac on Fifth. She is also hoping to keep the iconic Mac Auto Loans sign that is a familiar sight to residents in Knoxville.
“We’ve got to work with the city to get a variance in order to accommodate the size, the location, and the neon use of the sign. So, we’re working really hard to keep it and incorporate it into our new design,” Harris said.
The original building was built in the 1950s and the new apartment building is set to open in 2024.