Rogero: Baptist redevelopment is “catalyst”


Former Baptist hospital behind Mills and others speaking about the redevelopment plans.

About 90 percent of anyone in development for the city came out to Volunteer Landing this morning, along with a bunch of city council members and the mayor for the announcement of the Baptist redevelopment today:

Looking at housing for 700 students, 300 residential apartments, keeping office space there, 150-bed hotel, the riverwalk extension (presumably to the shops and restaurants located on the bottom floors). General excitement surrounded the idea that, finally, something is being done with that pink elephant on the South Knox waterfront. Here’s a few notes, thoughts, etc.:

Mayor Madeline Rogero said that the announcement from Blanchard & Calhoun (whose CEO Vic Mills is a Knoxville native) would be a “catalyst.””I think you’ll start seeing more,” she said, of the South Knox waterfront. “This is prime real estate.”

She said that the public processes that helped develop the form-based code in the city also will help with making sure that the redevelopment goes as planned.

Rogero said that from her corner office in the City County Building, she looks over at the hospital and the bridge. She’s seen work in one area and not in another.

“I’d come in and say, ‘what’s going to happen to Baptist?'” she said. “This is big.”

A few thoughts:

The Henley Bridge’s completion surely is connected to the success and completion of the hospital redevelopment. Meeting those timetables may play into the project – which is supposed to begin this fall/winter and be complete in 2015.

How is this being financed?

Might some of this development rely on the pedestrian bridge coming in some say? That’s a $20 million project with no scratch.

You can see the rail bridge in the background, behind the Henley bridge work.

You can see the rail bridge in the background, behind the Henley bridge work.

The railroad bridge, one council member pointed out to me, looks like it could use a new coat of paint. Or, I’d say, just be labeled as vintage. Me, I’m all vintage baby.

The riverwalk, which is slowly making its way upstream, would not run along the riverfront proper, as it’s some steep terrain and kind of hard to build upon, presumably.

Mills relayed a little story, that his grandmother was a cashier in the cafeteria for the former hospital. As a part of his childhood, he and his family would come downtown, eat at the cafeteria and then catch a show at the Tennessee Theater. He still has family in the area, he said, and visits often.

Here’s the release from the city. And drawings of the site.


About Gerald

A journalist in Knoxville, TN. Work (mostly) inside and play (mostly) outside. I'm a part of the X or the Y generation. None of us claim the other.
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