Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blight? We've got blight.

Corner of Summer Place and Locust, Knoxville, December 2010
It was interesting to read the article on blight in the Knoxville News Sentinel. According to the map provided, there are no blighted properties in downtown. Of course, there are many blighted properties in our area - buildings that are abandoned and in need of rescue, rubble and holes where buildings used to sit.

Former basement, corner of Summer Place and Locust, Knoxville
The area around Commerce and State Street would be one example. Another, which I see quite often is also one of the most photographed spots around. What makes blight interesting? I'm not sure. Intuitively I understand that the potential for good photographs is there, but in the end it is blight, after all.

Corner of Summer Place and Locust, Knoxville
I hate to take anything from the local photographers - or taggers - but I wouldn't mind seeing the city clean up this spot at the corner of Summer Place and Locust. When I first moved downtown I was told that the building which used to occupy the spot was slated for demolition which was delayed until the city forced the owner's hand. After demolition, the rubble stayed in place until the city exerted more pressure. I think it might be time for the city to request that the hole be filled. Sorry local shutterbugs.

Corner of Locust and Summer Place, Knoxville, December 2010

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At December 16, 2010 at 10:09 AM , Anonymous Art Wagner said...

Sometimes, it is useful to put a name on the face of blight. The hole in the ground lots are owned by NASEEMUL H SIDDIQI (NHS Development). The adjacent vacant building ("Liberty Building") is owned by the real estate company Brown, Brown, and West. The two properties represent a substantial opportunity in downtown, but apparently the owners prefer something other than civic pride.

At December 16, 2010 at 11:16 AM , Anonymous KnoxvilleUrbanGuy said...

That is interesting information. I'm no developer, but I had already imagined some potential for the Liberty building. If that end of the block was developed as the other end has been (the Daylight Building), it would help spread the heart of downtown in a westward direction. Market Square and Gay Street are great, but it doesn't seem like enough "downtown" to sustain a vibrant city.

At December 16, 2010 at 12:30 PM , Anonymous Art Wagner said...

You couldn't be more correct, Urban Guy. I recall there was some interest in the Liberty Building a year or so ago due to one of co-owners being bought out by the Browns. I'm guessing they are now willing to sit on the useless, unattractive, soul-less, decaying building until a big payday comes along. A similar situation for the empty lots.

That entire block as a whole would make a great "New York-style brownstone" block--individual looking buildings with retail on the ground floors and 4 or 5 floors of apartments/condos. The properties are too shallow for much more.

At December 16, 2010 at 2:14 PM , Anonymous KnoxvilleUrbanGuy said...

I would totally love to see a development like the one you mention. If someone took the care to make them architecturally similar to Kendrick Place, it would be awesome. With the combination of the residents in the Pembroke, Daylight, Kendrick Place, Crown Court and a new development on that spot, you would have a pretty dense residential area which should be able to form a base of support for businesses there. Oh for a few dozen million dollars!

At December 18, 2010 at 10:29 AM , Anonymous Downtown Dweller said...

Thank you for drawing attention to this blight. I live in the Daylight bldg and have to look at this every day! It also has become a hangout for the not so interesting homeless crowd that likes to lurk around our parking lot. It unnerves me sometimes when out walking my dog to see a man pop up from behind the rubble. I'm just glad it faces the fire station so we have someone to call upon if there is a problem. I love living downtown and hope to stay here for a long time but the city needs to address these abandoned lots and buildings. Keep up the good work. Love your blog!


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