KNOXVILLE (WATE) – It’s not hard to see over the last five to ten years, Jackson Avenue is experiencing a transformation.
“It’s been awesome. Knoxville can only really push one way and it’s this way,” said Sweet P’s BBQ Owner Chris Ford.
But to truly reach it’s full potential, development will have to come to the former McClung warehouse site, a project that hit a snag three years ago this month.
“Unfortunately, as most people will remember, there was a second fire in February of 2014,” said Knoxville Redevelopment Deputy Director Anne Wallace. “Because of the fire, there was a determination that the structures were no longer sound and needed to come down. So, we worked for several months properly disposing of the building materials and getting them off site.”
What’s next? As WATE 6 On Your Side has discovered, the process to rebuild has already been underway.
“While it seems like it may not be moving as everybody would like, we’re really taking the opportunity to get the infrastructure right, set the stage, for long term reinvestment,” said Wallace. “We’ve been able to secure a $180,000 federal grant to clean up the site and that project is getting ready to start in the near future.”
A project that should lead to construction within three years with a focus on commercial and residential space.
“Since we know we want to include residential as part of the development there, there is a higher standard the site needs to be clean,” said Wallace. “People will be living there and calling it home, so we want to make it as safe as possible.”
For Knoxville residents who were here in 2007, they remember the fires vividly. However, for business owners around Jackson Avenue, they say the fire has now brought opportunity.
“When you heard about it, I mean obviously you care because it’s your city,” said Ford. “This area has become an important part of the revitalization and I’m excited about it.”
The city’s redevelopment deputy directors tells WATE that the Knoxville Utility Board has already been working on infrastructure upgrades to prep for construction. Currently, the building is targeted to happen by 2020. However, Tennessee Department of Transportation will need to tear down and rebuild the Broadway viaduct at the McClung site. The project will kick off with utility relocation possibly as early as this spring.