(WBIR - Downtown Knoxville) After years of debate, two downtown Knoxville buildings are now no more.
On Saturday, St. John's Cathedral demolished the buildings on 710 and 712 Walnut. They were both close to 100 years old.
St. John's Cathedral owned the buildings. It had previously been locked in a two-year debate with Knox Heritage and members of a Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission subcommittee as to whether it should be allowed to destroy the buildings.
More Information: MPC June Meeting Minutes (pgs. 22 - 37 pertain to building demolition)
In June, the MPC ultimately voted to let St. John's Cathedral move forward with its plans. At that meeting, St. John's Attorney Arthur Seymour said the church needed the space where the buildings once stood to help with parking.
"As a downtown church in the center of the city, we face challenges other churches do not," Seymour told the MPC.
In November 2011, the church revealed it wanted to install landscaping, fencing and a pedestrian gateway in the area. Seymour also told the commission the church was interested in building a "port cache", which would be a place where cars could temporarily stop to let the elderly and disabled into the sanctuary.
More Information: St. John's Gateway renderings
In June's MPC meeting, St. John's Cathedral said it hoped to have enough money by next year to start re-configuring the circulation in its parking lot.
St. John's Cathedral declined to do an interview about the subject Sunday with 10News. However, a member of the church's clergy did tell 10News that St. John's Cathedral wanted to make the property "beautiful".
The topic became a hot button issue on Knox Heritage's Facebook page Saturday and Sunday.
"We worked so hard to find a solution," said Knox Heritage executive director Kim Trent. "So it's so disappointing to see them [the buildings] now in a pile of rubble.
''Neither of the buildings were on the National Register of Historic Places, but one was eligible for consideration. Trent said the buildings were special because of their age, architecture and their facade toward the street.