Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tour de Lights has been rescheduled

Tour de Lights has been rescheduled to Tuesday, December 21 at 7 p.m. due to inclement weather.The location and other details have not changed.
For more information on this year's Tour de Lights go to,
Please help us spread the word!
We’ll be passing through the 100 Block twice. You can help win the Most Welcoming Neighborhood award by being outside when the group goes by (perhaps singing carols) or decorating your balcony/building. Riders should be coming through the 100 Block the first time between 7:10 and 7:20 p.m., and the second time between 8 and 8:20 p.m. (these are very much rough estimates!)
Last year there were more than 450 bicyclists, and we expect to have many more this year. For more info, call the Bicycle Program at 215-3815 or email

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Construction Update- December 9, 2010

As most of you know, the 100 Block of S. Gay Street Streetscapes Project is just about finished. With the delivery and installation of the sod (see picture below) near the Cradle of Country Music Park, the work has been completed.

We are still compiling a punch list of smaller issues to be resolved but I think we can all be proud of what we accomplished here. Everyone worked together through some pretty tough times and I am grateful for all of the patience and understanding on all sides throughout this difficult project.

I attended a meeting of the 100 Block Association this week and they plan to archive this blog for future reference.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Arts & Culture Alliance Presents "Con_struct" by Aaron Shugart-Brown

Arts & Culture Alliance Presents "Con_struct"
by Aaron Shugart-Brown

(11/19/2010/Knoxville) - The Arts & Culture Alliance is pleased to present a new exhibition entitled "Con_struct: Revisiting the 100 Block Construction Project" by Aaron Shugart-Brown, opening Wednesday, December 8, at 5:30 PM in the Balcony of the Emporium Center. In December of 2007, Shugart-Brown opened Unarmed Merchants, an artisan gallery located on the 100 Block of Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. Just fourteen months later, in February of 2009, the City of Knoxville began an extensive, eighteen-month construction project on the 100 and 200 Blocks of Gay Street to rebuild the support structures, relocate and realign all utilities, and replace surface-level streetscape features. During those eighteen months, the construction affected every aspect of Shugart-Brown's life, including business, personal relationships with family and friends, and the art he created. "Con_struct" represents the body of work created by Shugart-Brown during that time as well as abstract photographs of the construction project itself. During the time he spent adjacent to the epicenter of the 100 Block construction project, a question emerged: was there an overarching aesthetic that could be derived from the process itself? Through all of the noise, dust, and debris, Shugart-Brown challenged himself to find the raw beauty of such an intrusive element. "I wanted to get right up in the face of my assailant and document a counterpoint to the frustration I experienced," says Shugart-Brown. "Using the tools of photography, mixed media paintings, and watercolor, I wanted a new visual language to emerge that would help describe this experience. With the final phase of the 100 Block Construction ending just two weeks before my exhibition opens, I feel that this show is a good, encompassing epilogue to a story many people are glad is finished." For more information on Shugart-Brown, visit

For more information on the 100 Block Construction Project, visit

"Con_struct" will be displayed in the Balcony at the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay Street, from December 8-23, 2010. An opening reception will take place on Wednesday, December 8, from 5:30-8:30 PM. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. For more information, please contact the Arts & Culture Alliance at (865) 523-7543 or visit

About the Arts & Culture Alliance

The Arts & Culture Alliance serves and supports a diverse community of artists, arts organizations, and cultural institutions. The Alliance receives financial support from the Tennessee Arts Commission ( ). Special thanks to
Bluegill Creative: Design and Marketing Communications ( ).

4th annual Tour de Lights bike ride

Please note the following unique event:

4th annual Tour de Lights bike ride
Thursday, Dec 16
Ride leaves at 7 p.m.
Krutch Park/Market St.

Join us for the 4th annual holiday bike tour of downtown Knoxville and historic neighborhoods. Riders are encouraged get creative with lights and costumes for the Decorating Contest. Hot cocoa and treats provided by Mast General Store after the ride. All ages welcome for this short, casual-paced ride. Sponsored by the City of Knoxville and the TPO Bicycle Program. More details, route and photos from past years at
We’ll be passing through the 100 Block twice. You can help win the Most Welcoming Neighborhood award by being outside when the group goes by (perhaps singing carols) or decorating your balcony/building. Riders should be coming through the 100 Block the first time between 7:10 and 7:20 p.m., and the second time between 8 and 8:20 p.m. (these are very much rough estimates!)

Last year there were more than 450 bicyclists, and we expect to have many more this year. For more info, call the Bicycle Program at 215-3815 or email

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Construction Update- November 18, 2010

As many of you know, we have now reopened both the 100 and 200 Blocks of S. Gay Street and the trees are installed.

The above picture is of the tree delivery.
Above is a picture of the first two trees in place at Jackson Avenue.

The picture below is of the completed street. I think it looks fantastic.

Early next week the Cradle of Country Music Park area will have some work with the sod being installed. Some of the new trees were installed in this area as well.
I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving.
As always, thanks for your interest.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Construction Update- November 10, 2010

Please note the following press release:


The 100 Block of Gay Street will be closed beginning Monday, November 15, so crews can install about two dozen large elm trees along the street. The 200 Block will also be closed later during the week for the landscaping effort.

The work – the final phase of the Gay Street Streetscapes Project - is expected to take five days, or through November 19, to complete. The trees are 20-25 feet high and contractors will be using heavy equipment to plant them in tree wells already installed in the sidewalks.

While the street will be closed, pedestrians will still have access along the 100 and 200 blocks during the project. The work will begin on the 100 Block and travel south, toward the heart of downtown, and into the 200 block as the week progresses.

Both blocks will not be closed at the same time.

Crews with Southern Constructors began the Gay Street Streetscapes project in the spring of 2009 and over the next 15 months replaced the street and replaced and widened the sidewalks on the 100 and 200 blocks.

Contractors also renovated the bridge-like supporting structure that has held the 100 Block of Gay Street suspended one story above the original street for nearly a century and upgraded the utility infrastructure along both blocks.

Most of the work was completed by August but contractors needed to wait until the more favorable fall conditions for tree planting.

In addition, the Contractor will begin sodding the area around the Cradle of Country Music Park and will begin replanting the planter boxes. This work will finish up our project except for a few loose ends the City will begin working on.

Please don't forget the Veterans Day Parade at 10:30 on Thursday November 11, 2010. The route will once again bring the Parade down the 100 and 200 Blocks of S. Gay Street ending on Depot Street.

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and encouragement throughout this project. It was truly a team effort by all.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Block Party

From our friends at Slamdot:

Friday, October 29 · 5:30pm - 10:00pm

100 Block of Gay Street, Downtown Knoxville
108 S. Gay Street
Knoxville, TN

Created By

You're invited to Nightmare on Gay Street, a family-friendly Halloween event hosted by Slamdot, on Friday, October 29th, from 5:30 pm to 10 pm, on the 100 Block of Gay Street in downtown Knoxville, with a private Haunted Open House at the Slamdot Store for our customers and friends.For all those souls who dare, come join your fellow humans...dead or alive...and bring your young to partake in the night of fright and eve of enchan...tment, where we hope you'll escape unscathed to tell your own twisted tale of....- Live music from WE Have a Tradition- Special performance of "Thriller" by Momentum Dance Lab, Knoxville's newest modern dance company founded in 2007 (learn more at Food vendors, including Bread of Heaven Catering BBQ (, Larry's Coney Island, Rita's Ice (, kettle corn and lemonade from Steamboat Sandwiches!- Ghost story read by Mayor Tim Burchett at 6:30!- Downtown candy crawl- Costume contests for all ages- A pumpkin carving contest among downtown businesses- Creepy critters from Ijams Nature Center- A Vampire Castle bounce house- Medieval swordfighting demonstrations by the Lukasbruder fighting guild- Kid's Halloween games, including Candy Corn Guess, Mummy Bowling and Guess the Monster Parts- Spooky Snapshots by Jennie Andrews Photography- A mystical magician- Wisdom Wagon fortune telling- Monster face painting- Trick-or-Tattoos- And much more!For the official Nightmare on Gay Street flyer, please visit, and share this with anyone you know, including zombies, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, vampires, witches, mummies or any other supernatural beings you may be acquainted with. And a special thanks to Meadow View Greenhouse and Garden Center ( for contributing to the Halloween decor.At the Slamdot Store, we'll be having a private Haunted Open House for our close friends and customers. We will have beer, wine, light refreshments, Halloween music, and a bone-chilling scene to mingle and network with others, along with some fangtastic door prizes! Food will be available to purchase outside during the Nightmare on Gay Street event. All you should bring is a costume and your business cards, although neither are required. The Slamdot Store is located at 108 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, TN 37902.Please RSVP no later than Monday, October 25th, to with your name and the number of additional guests you will be bringing.*NOTE: We're requiring all those attending Slamdot's Haunted Open House to RSVP, as we're limiting entry to those who are signed up to come. However, all are welcome to come out for the Nightmare on Gay Street event! The Slamdot Store is located at 108 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, TN 37902

Also please note that the 100 Block and 200 Block will be closed to vehicle traffic from 3pm until 11pm and there will be no onstreet parking all day Friday.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

City People's 2010 Downtown Homes Tour

Mark your calendar for the City People 2010 Downtown Homes Tour on 10/10/10 -- Sunday, October 10. The tour will begin at 10 a.m., and 10 beautiful downtown living spaces will be on the self-guided tour this year. Advanced tickets (through 11pm, October 9th) will be -- you guessed it -- just $10 and can also be purchased on-line at our website Advanced tickets will also be available at Abode on Market Square and Bliss Home on Market Square and at their west Knoxville location through Oct. 9.

Day-of tickets are $15.

We have a great line-up of home including two newly opened buildings - the Daylight on Union Avenue and Southeastern Glass on Jackson Avenue. Other Buildings include the Mill Agent, the Carson, Lerner Lofts, Emporium, Phoenix, and the Bungalows on Market Square, and individual residences on Gay Street and Jackson Avenue.

More than 700 people participated in the 2009 Downtown Homes Tour, touring furnished residences of all types and sizes throughout Downtown Knoxville. Units were housed in everything from carefully restored historical buildings to loft warehouse space to beautiful new construction. Many of downtown's current residents were introduced to urban living through one of the City People Downtown Homes Tours, helping Knoxville's center city grow to more than 2,000 residents over the last few years! Proceeds from Downtown Homes Tour are reinvested back into Knoxville's center city community through grants to downtown causes such as Shakespeare on the Square, James White Fort, Market Square Farmers Market, and more.

Hola Festival 2010

What: Hola Festival 2010
When: Saturday, October 9, 2010 - 11:00am
Where: 100 Block of Gay Street
Hola Festival 2010 comes to the 100 Block of Gay Street this Saturday, Oct. 9 from 11AM to 8PM. Hola Festival celebrates diversity as part of Hispanic Heritage Month and features authentic music and dance performances, food, cultural exhibits, and a Parade of Nations.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Block Party

Please don't forget this event!

Friday October 1, 2010
Block off the Night to Celebrate the Arts
100 Block Party - South Gay Street
5:30 pm to 9 pm
Family Friendly Fun!! Free Entertainment, Live Music & Food Vendors in celebration of the reopening of the 100 Block of S. Gay Street. Come experience Cirque Du Gay Street featuring trapeze artist, aerial dancing on silks, fire eating, fire breathing and Poi. There will also be performances by Momentum Dance Lab, Contemporary Rock Band "We have a Tradition", an Award winning performance of "Thriller" and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet. Celebrate the reopening of the 100 Block by dancing in the street.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jackson Avenue Parking Lot

We plan to reopen the Jackson Avenue Parking lot this weekend.

Of course it will be free parking for the weekend as we have for other parking downtown.

The City of Knoxville will begin charging for parking in the Jackson Avenue Parking Lot beginning on September 13 at 6:00am – though parking will still be free there at night and on weekends.

The Public Building Authority and Republic Parking will manage the Jackson Avenue Parking Lot for the city and will offer paid daily and monthly parking.Rates will be $1 an hour, for a maximum daily rate of $8, or monthly parking is available for $40. For more information on rates please contact Republic Parking at 865-524-0602 or PBA at 865-595-3350.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September 1, 2010 Update

Please remember the renovations to the Jackson Avenue Parking lot beginning today. Details were provided in the previous post.

Almost all of the construction has now been completed with only some landscaping remaining.

As we noted earlier, Gay Street will be closed for an additional two days in order to plant the large trees. This will likely occur in late September/ early October.

The Block Party is scheduled for October 1, 2010 and will coincide with the October First Friday.

Please mark your calenders for this exciting event.

The 100 Block Association has been meeting for organizational purposes and I would encourage folks on the block to help out and participate.

Congratulations to the folks at Slamdot on their five year anniversary. The had a very nice event at their business yesterday and I am sure they would be happy to visit with any of you.

Of course the September First Friday is this week and this will be the first time we have had this event with the road completely reopened. I hope to see you there.

Thanks for your interest.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jackson Avenue Parking Lot


The City of Knoxville will begin charging for parking in the Jackson Avenue Parking Lot beginning on or around September 10 – though parking will still be free there at night and on weekends.

The lot will be closed temporarily beginning September 1, for cleaning and re-striping and to allow the city to install parking equipment needed for the switch to paid parking. All vehicles must be removed from that lot by 7 a.m. on Sept. 1.

Currently the city offers free parking in the Jackson Avenue lot – which includes roughly 200 spaces - and has since it purchased the property last year in the midst of the Gay Street Streetscapes project.

The city will continue to offer free parking at the 200-space Old City Lot located nearby beneath the James White Parkway.

The new parking management policy is aimed at supporting businesses located on the 100 Block and North Gay Street areas by making sure there are spaces available for people patronizing those establishments during the day. There is concern that if the city doesn’t charge for parking a growing number of the spaces will be used by downtown workers who park there throughout the day.
That would leave a limited number of spaces for customers and clients of businesses in the vicinity. The city had been asked by some residents and business owners in the 100 Block area about the issue.
“When the city was approached to create a management structure in the lot one of the things we heard repeatedly was that both businesses and residents are helped when there is consistent turnover and availability,” said Hannah Parker, the city’s policy analyst and downtown coordinator. “While we elected not to charge for parking throughout the Gay Street construction project, we are doing so now in an effort to continue to spur redevelopment along Jackson and Gay, which is quickly becoming one of the most important east/west corridors in downtown.”
As part of the upcoming renovations the city will include a payment kiosk that accepts coins, bills and is capable of conducting secure credit card transactions.

The Public Building Authority and Republic Parking will manage the Jackson Avenue Parking Lot for the city and will offer paid daily and monthly parking.

Rates will be $1 an hour, for a maximum daily rate of $8, or monthly parking is available for $40. For more information on rates please contact Republic Parking at 865-524-0602 or PBA at 865-595-3350.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Construction Update - August 12, 2010

The 100 Block of S. Gay Street has now reopened without any hitches that I am aware of. The next few pictures are of the roadway just before it was opened for traffic.

The next two pictures are of the road after opening. As we all expected, it is already getting heavy use.

The sidewalks are looking very nice as well

I could not resist posting a sketch of the above picture using an app on my Iphone.

The parking meter kiosks for the 100 Block are still being ordered and before those are installed we will begin an education process. The same machine will be used on the Jackson Avenue parking lot. This lot is set to be cleaned and restriped in early September. I will post more on this at a later date.

The large 20-25 foot Elm trees will be planted sometime in October and will require that we shut the road back down for about two days. I will work with folks on the Block to get the best time for that work.

The plants in the planters will be replaced soon as many have obviously not survived the heat and the landscaping around the Cradle of Country Music Park is ongoing.

About all that remains to be done on the Block is some cleanup and more caulking.

The Block Party planning is continuing with the projected date of the the Party being September 10, 2010. Also, the 100 block organizational meeting is at 5:30 PM on August 18th at the Emporium building.

Finally, it is long overdue to thank the folks who got the job done for us here.

Terry Snelling was our Job Superintendent from Southern Constructors and we were so lucky to have him in charge. You often hear the term "herding cats" and that is exactly what this complicated project was like. Lest we forget, we had one of the wettest years last year, one of the coldest stretches, and now one of the hottest summers on record. This combined with all if the redesigns and and unknown issues resulted in a monumental task just to get the job done anywhere near the projected date. Terry methodically worked through each challenge and issue getting the right folks at the right times with the right equipment to handle each task. On a job like this , the Superintendent is also responsible for each of the subcontractors. At various times on this job we had well over 50 folks working on various tasks. While all of this was going on Terry always kept an eye out for how it might effect the folks on the Block. Whenever he knew he was going to create a hardship, he went out of his way to find something he could do to make it up to folks if he could. You don't often see that type of caring on these types of jobs.

Terry and his crew actually became a part of the fabric of the Block and went out of their way many times to assist anyone there needing help. His folks were courteous and hard working at all times. Alex, J.R., Jerry and many others who were out there almost all of the time really went above the call of the duty, I thought, in their dealings with the public. It is a testament to the folks at Southern Constructors that they have folks in their employ with this type of respect. Thanks to Richard Huskey, Owner, and to Mike Gray who handled the financial issues and project management for Southern. Those guys all did a great job.

Also many of the subs were equally as helpful on this job. Blount Excavating had most of the heavy equipment and Roger Williams was usually the guy in charge and operating the equipment for them. He was the big guy out there sometimes directing crews but also oftentimes directing traffic, or helping folks move in, or giving directions to folks, or helping folks park correctly. He and Len Smith and his crews played a big role in our success here.

Massey Electric folks also did a great job working with us and KUB. Thanks to Mike and Andy and the rest of those crews as well.

From the Public Sector end, we really had to have a lot of coordination with the various utilities particularly. Everette Noe, Gordon Bryant, and Bill Grady were the engineers who really helped make it happen. Jason Cole with KUB was their inspector and Jason's assistance was really invaluable to our timeline.

Andrew Luttrell was the Inspector on site from City Engineering and he was another integral part to getting this job done. His timely suggestions and expertise at critical times played a huge role in our success.

Robin Tipton was the City Engineer responsible for this project and she was just remarkable. I had worked with Robin some many years ago but her knowledge and caring and thoughtfulness here really made a huge difference and I was so impressed with her.

As a surveyor myself, I must acknowledge the huge contributions made by our City Surveyors, Russ, Rusty and Craig. So many problems were avoided by their project knowledge and redesigns in the field.

Others involved in the City were Engineers Tom Clabo, Brent Johnson, and Director Steve King.

Folks in the City of Knoxville should be proud that we have such a professional staff on board.

Folks in my shop were also a great resource and those folks would include Bill Lyons, Sr. Director of Policy and Communications, Hannah Parker, Anne Wallace, Bob Whetsel, and Randy Kenner.

Folks involved from Vaughn and Melton included John Kenst, Andrew Hutsell, and David Harrell to name a few. Ross/Fowler had the landscape architecture part of the job and Mike Fowler was our resource there.

Mickey Mallone, Director of Special Events for the City, Michelle Hummel of the CBID, Bobby Hubbs, Mark Fortner, and Brad Anders of KPD were also folks who assisted us.

There are, of course, many others to thank but I have already gone on too long.

I would be remiss if I did not thank Mayor Haslam and the members of City Council for having the courage to move this complicated yet much needed project forward.

Most of all the thanks go to all of the folks on the 100 Block who lived through the dust, noise, weather, utility outages, unknown pathways, and general disruptions of their lives. This is one of the most densely populated ares of our region so the impact here was considerable.

Your patience and understanding for the last 18 months has been amazing.

It has been my great honor to get to know many folks on the block and I look forward to continuing those relationships.

All of you made this project work so thank you all for a job well done.

My posts here will probably not be as frequent but as issues arise I will continue to try to keep you informed. Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can ever help you in any way.
As always, thanks for your interest.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Good News

I just talked to the Contractor and we should have the roadway on the 100 Block of S. Gay Street reopened in the morning. I will post more details later.

Update: The 100 Block of S. Gay Street is now open as of 8:30 this morning.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Construction Update - August 6, 2010

We are beginning to finish up the project this week by installing street signage and bike racks. The striping and other markings should be in place by tonight. The anticipated street opening is for sometime next week.

Of course there are other details such as caulking, etc. that will still be in process after the street opens, but the vast majority of the work has been completed at this point.

Some of the benches were realigned to avoid conflicts with utility boxes but overall street furniture has been placed exactly as we had planned without issue.

The holly trees for the Cradle of Country Music Park arrived and have now been planted with pin oaks and other vegetation still to come.

Many folks have expressed concern about the existing plants in the larger planters and we are addressing those issues. The landscaper has told us that they are all suffering from shock from being planted in the heat. Let me assure everyone that they are getting plenty of water. The landscaper is watering them every morning and the City is watering them three times a week.

The landscaper, who has guaranteed the plantings, assures us that he feels they are still alive and hopefully will come back out soon. In the event any of the plants fail to survive, he will replace them in early fall.

The timeline for the planting of the large trees on the block is still in discussion.

Please join me for First Friday tonight downtown and particularly on the 100 Block of S. Gay Street. Folks on the block depend on your continued patronage.

Also please note that the city of Knoxville is looking for a design for a banner for its arts district. The winning design will go on 26 banners hung from street poles primarily along Gay Street's 100 and 200 blocks. Deadline for digital submissions is Aug. 20.

Artists may submit up to three original designs. Submissions should include a solid color background and design using up to four colors. Designs will be juried by the city of Knoxville's Public Art Committee.

More guidelines and an application are at or interested artists can contact Suzanne Cada at the Arts & Culture Alliance, 865-523-7543 or

Plans are continuing to be made for the Block Party tentatively scheduled for September 10, 2010. A brown bag lunch meeting will be held at the Emporium at noon on Monday, August 9 to discuss the planned event.

As always, thanks for your interest.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Construction Update - July 29, 2010

As most of you know, Jackson Avenue has reopened and we are continuing to make progress in the final stages of the project. Bike racks and signage should be installed next week and the final striping of the parking stalls and roadway will occur soon as well.

Please be aware that the parking areas along the 200 Block will no longer be available after the roadway is restriped. The west side of the 200 Block of S. Gay Street will become a KAT bus stop and the eastern side will become a commercial loading zone as our plans have long indicated.

There will be also be two additional loading zones located on the 100 Block.

My friend, John Guston, sent me several photos taken around the time of the ribbon cutting.

The pictures below, I think, give a clear view of the improvements made. When the new trees arrive in early fall, the look will be complete. Additional plantings are to be placed in the planters soon as well.

We have removed the concrete in several areas of the roadway and have now replaced those sections with new concrete. It takes a little time for the concrete to cure and for the joints to be resealed with caulk, probably into the first week of August at least.

I know folks are always interested in the underground so below are two pictures taken under the sidewalk on the western side of the street.

The Contractor is removing his office trailer and the staging materials from the Jackson Avenue parking lot and we continue to plan for the rehabilitation of that lot.

Maintenance of the stairway at the Gay Street Viaduct is also in discussion.
Please remember that KPD plans to begin enforcement of parking violations once again on the O.P. Jenkins parking lot area beginning Monday, August 2, 1010.

The Block Party planning committee will meet for a brown bag lunch at noon on August 9, 2010 at the Emporium to discuss the event, tentatively planned for September 10, 2010.
As always, thanks for your interest.

Friday, July 23, 2010

O. P. Jenkins Parking Lot area

Since the parking lot has now been restriped and the extra meters have been installed for the additional parking spaces created during our Streetscapes project on the 100 Block, we will once again begin enforcing parking violations here beginning Monday, August 2, 2010. Please help us get the word out to those interested. Thanks

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Construction Update - July 22, 2010

Thanks to all who attended the ribbon cutting on the 100 Block Monday. The Block Party committee is continuing to make plans for the larger event now tentatively planned for September 10, 2010. Please contact the City Office of Special Events if you have ideas or want to be included in our celebration.

This week the Contractor is working on correcting the issues we have with the concrete surface and that has included having to use the concrete saw to remove some of the sections of pavement. This is a noisy and dusty process as you all know but we hope to get this completed by the end of the week and pour new concrete shortly thereafter. Then we will need a least a couple of weeks for the concrete to cure so we are thinking now that the road will probably reopen a little after the first of August.

There are still many items to finish on our punch list and we will continue to work on those issues after the road is opened. Certainly caulking all of the areas will take some time.
Many of you have asked about bike racks and we have those ready to be installed. Sometime soon we will begin installing the street signs and that will involve drilling holes in the sidewalk so we plan to drill the holes and install the bike racks at the same time. We were very happy to have the planter boxes with greenery by the ribbon cutting but even more plants will be going in as well. The trees may be delivered late next month and we will wait for the optimum time to plant those. Those are 20-25 foot elms as I understand it.

The sod for the Cradle of Country Music Park should also arrive finally next month so we can begin to finish that bit of work.

We are beginning to have issues with folks parking on the 100 Block, particularly at night. We have instructed KPD to keep a close watch on this and if you park there you will be cited and/or towed. We have placed no parking signs there, but folk are removing the barricades and entering the work zone. We all want this project to finish and have the road reopened as soon as possible and this is the type of situation that could cause real delays.
We have finally reopened Jackson Avenue for traffic a few days later than we had planned. We replaced the asphalt that was there before we began our work a couple of weeks ago. This asphalt does cover up a small portion of the brickwork but this is the way it has been for many years and is a result of the elevation of the Gay Street Viaduct. This issue will likely get revisited in the next couple of years when the Jackson Avenue Ramps undergo reconstruction.

The Contractor is beginning to remove his construction materials from the Jackson Avenue parking lot in anticipation of the lot reconstruction in August. The picture above is of a camper moved onto the lot a week or so ago. The Contractor came in early one night this week to discover the occupant here had "borrowed" an extension cord to hook into the Construction trailer for power. Obviously our parking lot is not a campground so we had this removed.

Last, congratulations to our friend Stanton Webster of Nama on the birth of his daughter, Sophia Estelle Webster.

Thanks for your interest

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Construction Update - July 15, 2010

Please don't forget the ribbon cutting now scheduled for July 19, 2010 at 11:00 am. Most of the work on the block is expected to be completed by then but the actual final opening of the road through the 100 Block has now become problematic. We always have had a final deadline of August 15 but had optimistically scheduled the ribbon cutting based on our projections three weeks ago. Some recent issues that have been discovered as we begin our final engineering inspections have forced us to delay the time to have the road completely opened, however. We had hoped to be able to open the road and keep at least one lane open but some extra work is required in both lanes so we felt it was best just to complete all of the work at once. The effect of this is that we will not be able to open the road permanently on July 19 as we had hoped.

We all want it to be right when we are finished here so spending a little extra time now seems to make a lot of sense.

Thanks to all of you for attending the 100 Block meeting this week. We discussed parking issues including signage on the Gay Street Viaduct and City Engineering is investigating those issues for me. Commercial loading zones and possible 15 minute parking spaces also had discussion. This is an issue that exists all over downtown and we are in the process of determining a solution that works for everyone.

A Committee is forming to plan the Block party planned for late August or September and this will be coordinated through our Office of Special Events. Contact them if you wish to be included.

Lastly, we were glad to hear that plans are being made to reconstitute the 100 Block Neighbourhood Association. I am sure you will be hearing more about that in the near future. Sean Christman of Slamdot will be heading up this organization.

As most of you know, we have only a little sidewalk work in front of the former VMC building left to finalize and we will finish this up this week. Other than caulking, this will finish up all of the sidewalk work for the project.

We are hoping to have our planter boxes completed but we continue to have delays with our vendors due to Nashville flooding. We plan to install the trees in September and these will be 20' to 30' Elms so the effect should be quite dramatic.

Jackson Avenue will be reopened sometime next week after some paving required to tie back the new construction to the Jackson Avenue ramp (see picture below)

Overall though, I think the block is looking great. The 200 Block has been completed for some time, the street lights are in and are functioning, the street furniture is in place, O.P. Jenkins Parking Lot area has been completely refurbished, Fire Street Alley has been completely rebuilt, and the Cradle of Country Music Park has been expanded. All of the new utilities are in place and are on line, and the underground areas have new pavement.

The picture above was sent to me by a friend and was taken from a book he received recently.

The book, "Knoxville - A Pictorial History", has this photograph and the accompanying text:

"In 1869, S.T. Post and Son started making wagons and carriages. In 1978, Post and Company is still in business, but they make truck bodies nowadays. This photo, taken from Summitt Hill in 1872, shows Post's original location. Gay Street goes from left to right in the foreground. Peabody School is the large cupolaed building just below the left horizon. East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia railroad trains - now the site of the Southern railroad yards - are below the Peabody. The circus was held just above the pond near the center of the picture. Central Avenue (originally Crozier Street) can just be seen halfway up on the right behind the white house."

Thanks again to all of the folks on the bock for their patience and understanding throughout this complicated project.

As always, thanks for your interest.

Note: If you would like to be removed from these blog updates, simply reply to this e-mail with a removal request in the subject line.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Construction Update - July 8, 2010

Construction crews are continuing their work in the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Gay Street and are finishing up with the colored concrete section in front of the Emporium.

The picture below is of one of the two seating areas on the widened sidewalk in front of the Emporium.
Thanks to Scott Williams and Donald Jenkins of City Engineering for helping me understand the following two pictures. The first is of the reconstruction of Gay Street around 1917 and shows the first columns to support the new sidewalk being constructed on the west side in front of the former VMC building on Gay Street.

The picture below is of the intersection of Jackson and Gay Street probably in the late 1890's. It is interesting to note that this was before the Emporium was built. The lower right corner of the photo shows the depression in which the Emporium Building was finally constructed. Note the wooden fence along Jackson to keep folks from falling in the steep depression.

Also it is interesting to note the two railroad buildings that no longer exist just below Jackson Avenue.

Please don't forget the 100 Block meeting planned for 5:30pm on July 13 at the Emporium.

Topics of discussion will include the Block Party, 100 Block Association, and any construction issues.

Thanks for your interest.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Construction Update - July 1, 2010

We are happy to finally announce that the ribbon cutting for the Streetscapes Project along the 100 and 200 blocks of S. Gay Street will be held on the morning of July 19, 2010. We had previously announced the date as July 20 but have now moved it up one day (a revised press release will be going out soon with the time). I will announce more about this as the day draws closer.

We will most certainly still have occasional lane closures for at least another month along the block but we are hopeful that at least one lane can remain open from here on out.

We will not plant the trees until the fall, probably in November and given their size, we will have to have some lane closures then as well.

The sod we had ordered for the Cradle of Country Music Park was to come from Nashville but because of the flooding there, this has been delayed so we still will have that bit of work to do.

Of course First Friday is July 2 and we hope to have much of the colored concrete poured on the eastern sidewalk by then. We must wait, however, until we begin our work on the final section of sidewalk in front of the Emporium so we can make sure the colors all are uniform with the concrete on Jackson Avenue.

The Jackson intersection will receive the same colored concrete treatments as the intersection of Vine Avenue and Gay Street. This will necessitate one remaining two week closure of this intersection beginning July 5, 2010 at 7:00 am.

For more information on First Friday events and on some fine organizations, please follow these links:

Below are pictures of the Emporium building shortly after the road was reopened in 1919 and the next picture is of some of the business that went on there.

Since we have been able to move more quickly on this final bit of work, we will not have the parking kiosks in place by the ribbon cutting so we will simply stripe off the parking stalls and allow free parking until we can get these units installed.

Also, we apologize for all of the confusion over the misaligned parking meters on the O. P. Jenkins parking lot. Hopefully in a couple of weeks we can get that situation rectified but I am happy that KPD will not be enforcing parking meter violations here until we are able to restripe that lot. This work is now tentatively scheduled for July 11th. If all goes according to plan, we will post signs about this on Friday July 9, 2010 and clean the lot on the evening of July 10, 2010.

I am planning another 100 Block neighborhood meeting to be held at 5:30pm on Tuesday July 13 at the Emporium. I really hope many of you can attend to help us plan for the opening celebration and also to begin discussion about an 100 Block Neighborhood organization. Of course we will also review our progress on the project and the next steps until completion.

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable 4th of July Holiday. I know many excellent events are planned downtown .

Thanks for your interest

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Construction Update - June 17, 2010

As promised, the Contractor has now poured most of the concrete for the roadway and is beginning to pour some of the colored concrete at the intersection of Jackson Avenue at Gay Street.

Probably beginning next week we will start with the colored concrete topcoat, beginning on the eastern sidewalk where we ended a few weeks ago. Again, this work must be done at night beginning around 7:30pm. The roadway itself will be available for travel with entrances created into the effected doorways.

On July 6 we plan to shut down the Jackson Avenue intersection once again to finish up this bit of work. This intersection will receive the same colored concrete treatments as the other intersections.

As many of you have noticed, the street lights on both sides of the street are now in place and are energized. We are still working to get all of the bulbs functioning correctly however.
Below is a another picture of the 1919 construction efforts here.

I am in continued discussion with the Contractor about start times and noise so hopefully we can do better in that regard. I really believe that in another month we will be substantially finished with the major construction so please hang in there with us just a little longer.

Our friends at Slamdot wanted me to remind you of the following event tonight: Slamdot will be hosting a Farragut/West Knox Chamber of Commerce networking event on Thursday, June 17th, from 5 pm to 7 pm at the Slamdot Store downtown, located at 108 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, TN 37902. Everyone is welcome!

I am planning to set up another neighborhood meeting around the middle of July to discuss progress as well as to get ideas on plans for the Streetscapes opening Block party and ribbon cutting. I hope many of you can be there because we need your input. We are also discussing the possibility of banners being placed on the street light poles as we have done in other parts of the City.

I will be on hiatus next week but will also check on progress and if anything major occurs I will post a brief message here.

Thanks for your interest.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Construction Update - June 10, 2010

As complicated and challenging as this Streetscapes Project has been, the original construction must have been equally as daunting as evidenced by the following picture pre 1919.

Of course below is a picture of the completed look after 1919 completion.

We have now reopened Jackson Avenue upon completion of utility work. Unfortunately we must close Jackson Avenue one more time for approximately two weeks, probably beginning on the Monday after First Friday in July, to finish repaving this area.

We have also finished the last section of sidewalk on the western side of S. Gay Street (see next two pictures).

Street lights have been installed on both sides of the street and the lights are energized on the eastern section.We hope to have all of the street lights turned on by the end of next week.

The road work is now coming along at a rapid pace and by the end of next week we are hoping to have all of the concrete poured for the roadway.

Sometime around the week of June 21 we will begin finishing the sidewalk sections with the colored concrete. This work will be done primarily at night beginning around 7:30pm as the concrete is temperature sensitive. This pour of concrete should be set up by the next morning. After we get a few sections poured we will have a real good idea of timing for the remaining sections. While this work is being done, the street itself will be used for pedestrian traffic. We are aware of the noise issues and are not planning to use any equipment except for the concrete trucks and the crews themselves with wheelbarrows. Access will be provided for all of the entrances as we go.

We are getting to a point in construction where we can all see the finish line. Hallelujah!

Thanks for your interest.