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Cumberland Ave. development excites city, property owners

12:07 AM, Jun 19, 2013   |    comments
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A lot of dirt has been flying near the Cumberland Avenue strip, and it's just the beginning.

City officials met Tuesday evening with local property owners to discuss their vision for the Strip. The meeting focused on form-based coding. The city wants to change the zoning code in the area so that all buildings that redevelop have at least two stories.

The city feels it would add to the area's mixed-use opportunities, something nearby Fort Sanders resident Randall De Ford says the area needs.

"It's the commercial center of Fort Sanders and because of that it needs retail and commercial space," he said.

A lot of other developments have taken place recently on Cumberland Avenue too. Just last month, developers announced plans to start construction of an $18 million student housing project on the site of the old Cumberland Avenue BP station.

While down the street, work is almost done on Hilton Garden Inn project. The city said it was informed it could open as soon as late July.

The University Commons project has also progressed well, according to developer Jim Harrison. He told 10News passersby should see steel beams going up in the area next week.

He said while the project is about 45 days behind schedule due to a past permit issue, it should still be done by August 2014.

More Information: The Cumberland Connection Blog

He added University Commons still has about 40,000 square feet of retail space available too. Harrison said his firm has received a lot of interest in filling it.

All of the development news has been exciting to Debbie Billings, owner of Graphic Creations near Cumberland Avenue. She said she and other business owners have worked for decades to advance the Strip.

"It's finally kind of coming to fruition, eventually people will able to look back at the university and be able to be proud of their front doorstep," she said.

After the Vols' football season, another huge development will take place on Cumberland Avenue too. The City of Knoxville will begin its streetscape project.

"The streetscape project looks at reducing Cumberland Avenue in terms of the number of lanes and adding that road width back to the sidewalk in order to improve the pedestrian experience," said Cumberland Avenue project manager Anne Wallace.

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