The patch of land known as Marble Alley in downtown Knoxville was once held up by the city’s detractors as an example of its ineptitude when it came to downtown development.
Today, it serves as an example of how far downtown Knoxville has come.
Local government officials joined Knoxville architect/developer Buzz Goss today in breaking ground on a proposed 238-unit apartment building called Marble Alley Lofts. Goss says the three-to-five story facility will feature its own parking garage, a resort-style swimming pool and the promise of additional retail space in the coming years.
“This project will help to encourage and support the continued redevelopment of downtown, but the benefits of this development will extend well beyond the boundaries of our center-city,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett at today’s groundbreaking ceremony. “Our local economy, schools, parks and roads will all benefit from the people who choose to live at Marble Alley and the revenue generated from having this property back on the tax rolls.”
The land, on Union Avenue between State and Central Streets, was purchased by Knox County in the 1990’s to become the home of a new $90 million downtown jail. When that project was eventually scrapped, the county was left with a vacant strip of land that was generating no tax revenue. Other development ideas for the land emerged, including a downtown planetarium, but none of them saw the light of day.
In 2009, Goss bought the land from the city for three million dollars.
“I am confident that (Marble Alley Lofts) will set a new and positive direction for downtown and, at the same time, blend well with its neighbors,” Goss said.
Goss’ project received tax incentives from both the city and county and the city has promised to invest $1.4 million in infrastructure improvements near the site, including street and sidewalk renovations.
Goss says residents should be able to move into the new building some time in early 2016.