KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In an effort to preserve Black history at the new baseball stadium site in East Knoxville, the first private development will be named in honor of internationally acclaimed artist and Knoxville native Beauford Delaney.
Delaney was a modernist painter whose childhood home was one block away from the site of the project on the edge of the Old City.
The nine-story building is expected to have 35 to 45 condos and will include underground parking, as well as restaurant, retail and commercial space.
Partners Development will serve as the developer for the $45 million project.
The building is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024 to coincide with the Knoxville Smokies’ debut baseball season at the new stadium.
"We should have been had a building named after Beauford Delaney in this city," President of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center Rev. Reneé Kesler said. "We should have, a long time ago, acknowledged the brilliant artist that the world has already acknowledged. I think it's been a travesty that everywhere throughout the country and in the world when you talk about art and the great artists, Beauford is there, except in Knoxville."
The neighborhood in which the stadium will be located was eliminated 50 years ago by urban renewal, including Delaney's childhood home.
"I think in looking back at history, we can see all the errors that were made," Kesler said. "I hope that as we begin to embrace our new stadium back at home, and downtown Knoxville, that all people will come and feel welcome. Remember the history but also see the history in a way they've never seen it before."
The building is part of a $100 million+ private development developers pledged to build concurrently with the stadium.
Developers said they have agreements with the Beck Cultural Exchange Center and the Knoxville Area Urban League to preserve the history of that area, and uplift disadvantaged businesses.
City leaders and developers said they hope the stadium and the surrounding private development will connect the Old City with a blighted part of Knoxville, East of James White Parkway.
Smokies' owner Randy Boyd said he hopes that will connect East Knoxville to the rest of the city.
"What we're hoping to see is the ignition of an economic engine from this opportunity," said Vice Mayor Andrew Roberto.
In November, the Knoxville City Council and Knox County Commission approved a formal pact that commits them to jointly financing the creation of the stadium. Construction is expected to begin this year.