KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The city of Knoxville will break ground on its new $10 million Urban Wilderness Gateway Park at Baker Creek Preserve next week. 

Gateway Park will act as a "grand front porch" at the end of James White Parkway, introducing visitors to Knoxville's 1,000-acre Urban Wilderness reaction area, according to the city. 

The groundbreaking is set for Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Expected to be a catalyst in modernizing the South Waterfront, the park will connect East and South Knoxville with downtown using greenways and park land.

Plans were released after several city-hosted public meetings and an input exhibition and block party in 2018 where almost 1,000 people commented ideas and hopeful priorities for the park. 

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"The project will also add parking, pedestrian and bike pathways and trails, a bike park, restrooms, shade structures and additional children's nature play areas," said Knoxville Urban Wilderness Coordinator Rebekah Jane Montgomery. "We'll also be improving accessibility, connectivity and safety to existing neighborhoods, business and schools."

As one of the city's largest outdoor recreation projects, the construction of Gateway Park will take two phases.

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The first phase, expected to be completed in 2020, focuses on Baker Creek Preserve and the Tennessee Department of Transportation right-of-way land connecting James White Parkway.

Phase two will complete the project by adding layering landscape and other amenities following phase one.

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