Thursday, January 12, 2012

2011 Business Review, Part Four: Final Thoughts

Knoxville Skyline

So we've looked at all the businesses that left, the ones that re-invested and the ones that took the plunge and opened their doors for the first time this year. What does it all mean? When you put it all together and shake it up, what kind of cocktail do you get?

If you look at the numbers in straight terms, I get fourteen closures, thirteen re-investing and eighteen opening. That's pretty optimistic on the face of it. While fourteen didn't make a go of it, thirteen are doing well enough to pour more money into their investment and an even larger number decided the situation was favorable for making money. But more specifically, what types of businesses failed, changed and opened?

We are still clearly bullish on restaurants: Five closed, six re-invested and three opened. We did lose two major destination restaurants and we've not really replaced these. We're also very bullish on bars: One closed, one expanded and six opened. That's one more open than I mentioned in the openings post, because I forgot to note that Ink has opened where Organized Play used to be on Cumberland. We like to eat and we really like to drink.

We drew about even on clothing, losing two businesses, moving one and opening two. The same hotel closed and re-opened, so that was a wash, except in the sense that it is much improved.

36 Market Square should soon have tenants

We lost a couple of arts and gift stores and a tattoo parlor and didn't replace those. We lost a couple of industrial or corporate offices and didn't replace those. The number of jobs lost with these departures is a significant blow, particularly Kimberly Clark.

The most encouraging trend I see in the numbers is the expanding variety of stores that opened or re-invested. The re-investments included a florist, a hair salon, a game shop and a bank. Some of the new businesses filled real needs downtown. We gained a bus line and a school. We added two public event venues, an athletic supply store and a re-opened all-purpose business. We expanded our limited grocery offerings by adding two grocery stores and a convenience store. We finally got one of the long-rumored beauty schools. We added a full-service, independent book store at a time when Nashville did not have a single secular book store (Ann Pachett later opened one).

There are always rumors floating, some of which turn to reality and others which never come true. Current rumors or promised openings which I've heard mentioned include three new restaurants and "something completely different" in the Old City. Josh Flory noted yesterday that Tupelo Honey may be coming to 1 Market Square. A bedding store is rumored to be moving into 2 Market Square. Another bar should soon be open on Gay Street near Morelock Music. Tenants should soon be announced for 36 Market Square.

Former site of Volunteer Ministries being redeveloped

Tenants have already been found for the Arnstein building upper floors and Urban Outfitter rumors have really picked up again as a potential tenant for the lower floor. Spaces at the corner of Gay and Jackson and along Union Avenue beside the Hotel Oliver are slated for face-lifts or are undergoing renovation with the idea of adding businesses.

So I remain very optimistic. We've had startling growth for the last several years during a time when few areas could say as much. If the economy heals how exciting could it get? Could we finally begin to see major new construction rather than renovations downtown? Could the Penny's building finally become something more than an eye-sore? I think so. I see great things ahead for our great city and I hope you do, too.

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At January 12, 2012 at 12:23 PM , Blogger tthurman said...

Well Kimberly Clark hasn't left yet. Are they willing to leave their current building empty and go get another one? That wouldn't make a whole lot of sense now would it. Word that I have got is without parking, interest in their current building is practically non-existent.
When TVA completes their end of the bargain, and reclaims their parking spaces KC can just take all the vacancy that will be created as many ground lots will become immediately available, as long as they don't procrastinate that is.

At January 12, 2012 at 1:33 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

It's true, they haven't left, yet. I haven't heard much optimism that they might be kept. I'm not sure I follow your last paragraph. Are you saying TVA employees will then switch to the parking garage beside them and that will free up the other garages for the Kimberly Clark employess in the city garages?

BTW, I didn't mention it in the article because it isn't really a business, but it is related: the city already has plans to add two floors to the State Street Garage and I'm hearing talk, at least of a new garage, maybe on the other side of Vine.

At January 12, 2012 at 1:54 PM , Anonymous Greg said...

Speaking of new construction ... the city's willingness to build parking garages makes a new apartment tower a lot more likely. Not having to build your own garage dramatically reduces the overhead cost of development.

At January 12, 2012 at 2:34 PM , Blogger tthurman said...

What I think happened is this. TVA used spaces in the garage to close the deal on the KC building. KC entered into this knowing all well this day might and probably would come. Since then TVA employees have been parking on ground lots all over the city, which I believe they reimburse them for. It would seem to make sense that they conceded free parking for their own people in order to sell the building. If suddenly they have all this space back it would only make sense to bring back in their employees and cut their losses. Right? Granted it's an assumption.

At January 12, 2012 at 3:07 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Greg, I hadn't thought about that, though it makes sense. I have't heard any suggestions of the city being willing to add parking garages for newly constructed condos or apartments, thought.

Mr. T, This all makes sense. I hadn't thought about it. What I read/heard was that the KC downtown location was a real anomoly for them and that they typically have offices in the suburbs with large, surface parking lots. Regarding that building, I thought I understood in one article that I read that 55% of it is actually leased out to others not affiliated with KC, but I may have misunderstood this.

At January 12, 2012 at 4:57 PM , Blogger Andrea said...

Rick Emmett was at our 100 Block meeting yesterday and he told us there are no plans to put a garage this side of Summit Hill. And trust me, parking was an issue we covered long and hard at yesterday's meeting.

At January 12, 2012 at 6:14 PM , Blogger Andrea said...

Ah, Urban Guy, you will like this: Shuck Raw Bar & Ale

At January 12, 2012 at 8:49 PM , Blogger tthurman said...

The parking garage I mentioned in previous posts was long ago abandoned. IMO it should be seriously reconsidered, in the long term I feel it would be a huge win for the city. In current times, I'm sure this is an extremely difficult idea to get the city sold on. I'm just in hopes something can happen to continue the progress with downtown development, as I'm a huge supporter of this. Again, these are just my observations, and with no insider knowledge outside of what I perceive to be from being there every day. I feel our city is on the brink of becoming something really special, and I would hate to see it regress after coming so far.

Thanks UG for your dedicated work on this blog, it most certainly maintains healthy interaction among the community!

At January 12, 2012 at 9:20 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Hey guys,
Andrea: I'm disappointed to hear what Rick said. I thought it was being discussed around. It's great and a little worrisome that parking is once again an issue downtown. I do like the Shuck news. I'm there.

Mr. T. I agree. I hope the city doesn't let this opportune time pass by. I don't think our current administration will let the momentum die. And, yes, the interaction is always fun.

I appreciate you both reading so faithfully and making comments.

At January 13, 2012 at 3:47 PM , Anonymous AT said...

whatever happened to the Marble Alley project, speaking of State Street? I was under the impression they would start on some kind of construction in 2011 but it didn't happen.

I'm referring to the project that Buzz Goss and pretty much all the major downtown real estate guys are involved in that connects State Street and downtown to the Old City.

At January 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Marble Alley is still, supposedly going forward. Originally it was supposed to get going in 2011. There was an update in August when approvals were made for apartments which I never was quite clear about - they either were going on top of the new two floors of the state street garage or in the large parking lot facing it. Construction obviously still hasn't started, but it hasn't gone away so far. Here's a link to the most recent news burst:


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