KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County has received seven different proposals for the Andrew Johnson building, located near Gay Street bridge in Downtown Knoxville.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett announced in April that his office planned to move Knox County School’s administrative office’s to another location and open up the Andrew Johnson building for sale and redevelopment. The period to submit proposals closed Thursday.
“The amount of interest shown in redeveloping the AJ Building is exciting, and it’s an indication that this historic building can be preserved and put to better use by the private sector,” said Burchett. “I look forward to working with Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas, the Knox County Board of Education and the Knox County Commission as we work toward getting this valuable property back on the tax rolls.”
Burchett said efforts to identify a new location for the Knox County Schools’ administrative offices is on-going, but they have received seven different proposals for the Andrew Johnson Building. Soon, Burchett says an evaluation committee will begin reviewing the proposals, a process that make take eight to 10 weeks, according to Knox County Procurement staff.
WATE 6 On Your Side reached out to developers to ask what they proposed for the building:
BNA Associates, LLC in Nashville
BNA Associates, LLC in Nashville wants to put a boutique hotel and residences in the high-rise, which was built in the 1930s. While doing research for the proposal, developer Phillip Welker, said a lot of people in the Knoxville-area said they wanted a roof-top outdoor bar, so that is one of the items he plans to add to to the project.
BNA Associates says they focus on developing unique urban projects. Some of their recent projects include the Oliver Hotel and Peter Kern Library in Knoxville’s Market Square and SoBro Guest House in Nashville.
Crescent Bend Development & Safe Harbor Development in Nashville
Crescent Bend Development & Safe Harbor Development are teaming up to create an 104 unit luxury apartment complex.
The proposal includes retail on the ground floor and a restaurant and bar on the 17th floor. Crescent Bend Development Owner Paul Murphy says his proposal also includes a rooftop bar on the outdoor terrace, which he hope will give a breathtaking view of not only the Tennessee River but Mount LeConte.
Murphy says he has developed apartments for over 20 years. Some of his projects include the Preserve at Hardin Valley and the The Villas on Wellis Road.
He says his partner, Safe Harbor Development, brings retail and restaurant experience. They have developed several large retail areas such as The Island at Pigeon Forge.
The developer said one of their main goals it to preserve the historical integrity of the building. The building was originally home to the Andrew Johnson Hotel, serving people like Sergei Rachmanioff, Amelia Earhart, Lyndon B. Johnson, Elvis Presley and Duke Ellington. Country music singer Hank Williams Sr. was even rumored to have spent the last night of his life at the hotel in 1952. He says as part of his proposal, his group reached out to Kim Trent with Knox Heritage and asked her to be part of their proposal and work with their architect.
LHP Capital LLC and Conversion Properties, Inc in Knoxville
Joe Petree, the president of Conversion Properties Inc. said his proposal includes turning the building into 142 apartments. However, unlike most housing downtown, Petree says he wants to offer affordable options.
Petree said he is planning on offering about 30 percent of the apartments (Around 42 units) at a discounted rate so that people living at or below the medium income for Knoxville ($44,800) will be able to live downtown.
“Most people that work downtown can’t afford to live downtown,” says Petree. “We’re really just trying to start the idea of affordability in downtown apartments. A lot of people are getting priced out.”
His plan also includes retail and office spaces.
Conversion Properties, Inc. has 40 years of experience developing properties. They’ve worked on a several building in Downtown Knoxville including Southeastern Glass, Taylor Lofts, Regas Square and Walnut Street Garage. Their partner, LHP Capital LLC has developed over 85 different apartment complexes totaling over $850 million dollars in development costs.
WATE 6 On Your Side also reached out to BET Investments, Inc in Columbus, Ohio, Development Service Group in Memphis, Sun Development and Management Corporation in Indianapolis and Terminus Real Estate and Legacy Capital Partners, LLC in Knoxville who have also submitted a proposals. Check back for updates on their proposals.
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