KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Work on a $500-million private development near the University of Tennessee, Knoxville that will transform Cumberland Avenue over the next several years will begin Friday.

The City of Knoxville said in a news release that permits for the “Hub on Campus” development had been approved, allowing the developer’s construction crews to demolish existing buildings on the blocks within Cumberland and White avenues, 19th and 20th streets. The city has also approved a traffic control permit as the work gets underway.

Hub on Campus, which the City of Knoxville calls a “massive Cumberland Avenue private investment” in its news release, will include more than 800 apartments, 30,000 square feet of retail space and a 10-story parking garage.

“Hub on Campus brings much-needed housing in a big way, and more apartments eases both the citywide shortage and the University of Tennessee’s shortage,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said. “Increased housing availability drives down rent prices citywide. This project also will create new entertainment and retail amenities, further invigorating the Cumberland corridor and the UT community.”

Kincannon also said in the release that the private commercial investment creates jobs and expands the local economy with tens of millions of dollars in taxes expected to be generated.

“This half-a-billion-dollar private investment is a great example of why the City’s and KUB’S public investment in the Cumberland Avenue Streetscape Project several years back was both strategic and necessary,” Kincannon said.

Over several years, four blocks on both sides of Cumberland Avenue will be remade with four 8- to 10-story buildings; “considering the size of the Hub project, the first phase of demolition and reconstruction will have little direct impact on motorists and pedestrians,” the release states.

Sidewalks to be affected during the project development

For the initial demolition process of the buildings to make room for the construction of Hub on Campus, the sidewalk on the north side of Cumberland between 19th and 20th streets will be closed for two weeks, beginning Friday.

Then, the city says the general contractor will construct a protected walkway that will cover the sidewalk, which is anticipated to remain open for the majority of the project’s construction, with closures occurring periodically.

No long-term street closures are anticipated. Sidewalks on the southern side of White Avenue, the eastern side of 20th Street and the western side of 19th Street will be closed until summer 2025. (The sidewalks on the opposite sides of each street will remain open.)

Parking space impacts

For parking, the city says a total of 11 public parking spaces will be lost.

The Hub on Campus will eventually house more than 2,100 residents and its garage that will be built off White Avenue will accommodate about 2,100 vehicles. This will include 212 parking spaces for Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and 85 spaces for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.