Developer aims to change South Knoxville's skyline with new project

10:33 PM, Jun 4, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR-Knoxville) Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero announced plans to develop a residential, retail, and commercial space to replace the old Baptist Hospital along the Tennessee River.

The development is called "The Bridges at Riverside" and would include up to 350 luxury rental apartments, a 150-room hotel, and 225 student apartments.

Most of the building will be demolished, according to developers Blanchard and Calhoun of Augusta, Georgia.

The building closest to the Gay Street bridge currently houses several medical offices and will remain.

They also laid out plans for a riverwalk that would sit at the base of the development, but elevated from the waterline. Developers say that design will make it more "pedestrian friendly."

Some public dollars will go into upgrading infrastructure and building the riverwalk, says Rogero, but the city has not negotiated yet whether that portion of the property will become publicly owned and maintained land.

But the developers did promise Tuesday that 100% of the riverfront will be dedicated to public space.

Rogero says she hopes this will jump-start more investment in South Knoxville.

"If this goes through as they're predicting then it's going to be a major investment-- just like downtown. When folks started coming and reinvesting in downtown you saw the domino effect," said Rogero.

The developer estimates it will take a $125-150 million investment to get the project completed.

It's a promising deal, says the city. But it's not a done deal.

Blanchard and Calhoun doesn't own the property yet and hopes to close on the building by the end of this year. If that happens, they say construction could begin in early 2014 and take up to three years.

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