Historic Knoxville home's future up for debate

Dozens of people in one Knox County neighborhood are fighting to keep a historic home intact and untouched by developers.

The owners of the Christenberry home, at 3222 Kingston Pike, have submitted a rezoning request to the Metropolitan Planning Commission. If granted, that request would change zoning on the property from a single family dwelling to multi-family dwelling.

Many neighbors are not fond of the idea.

"We would really like to keep the single family residential nature of Knoxville," said Dennis Owen, a member for the Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills Neighborhood Association.

"And it goes without saying, we'd really like to keep a historic home alive and well."

According to Knox Heritage, the home was built in the 1920s for the well-established Christenberry family. Family members still own the property, but nobody currently lives in the home.

A demolition permit was obtained for the property in January. Knoxville attorney Arthur Seymour represents the property owners, and said there is no demolition planned currently.

He refused any further comment on the proposed project at this time.

However, neighbors like Owen have plenty to say. The zoning request documents include more than 30 pages of emails arguing against development plans at the Christenberry home.

Many point to safety concerns.

"If you've ever driven on Kingston Pike you know it's a very dangerous place to be," Owen said. "It's a terribly unsafe curve, and we'd really like to see some other plans besides multi-family dwellings with -- according to MPC -- 300 ins and outs each day."

Owen said a developer recently held a meeting with neighbors and offered a tour of the property.

"I would say it's about a C+ [for] transparency on what's going on. We haven't seen any plans, we haven't seen a blue print, we only hear through the legal avenues," Owen said.

If the rezoning is approved, it won't be the first non-single family dwelling on that stretch of Kingston Pike. Other historic properties have been renovated into churches, museums, or multi-family dwellings.

The neighborhood association is working to ensure it doesn't happen to the Christenberry house.

"I'm not sure we can ever feel relief until we have a family parked in that home restoring it, and a single driveway coming out of there with a couple cars," Owen said.


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