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Former 'Hotel Knoxville' location to be turned into apartments for students and young professionals

The project is described as an "adaptive reuse project," changing the building from a former Marriot hotel to a 375-unit apartment building with retail space.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A large slanted building with views of downtown Knoxville is being transformed. The iconic pyramid-shaped building near the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame could soon be an apartment complex for students and young professionals.

According to an application for grant funding from the Downtown Knoxville Alliance, through the Economic Impact Program, the building will have 375 units with space for retail stores.

The owners are called Melrose Knoxville LLC with a mailing address located in Beverly Hills, California. In the application, they said they are targeting young students and young professionals to rent there. As a result, they said the rent for most single, furnished units will be "marketed at an affordable rate."

They said the rent will be in the range of "affordable to market rate," according to the application. Additional information about the rent rate was not available in the application.

They asked for $50,000 in funding in order to support a project to install metal flashing and recaulk some large bay windows that face the Tennessee River. They said the project is necessary to stop water leaks through concrete cracks, preserve the building and update it for occupants. It would cost $152,160 in total.

Credit: Downtown Knoxville Alliance

According to the application, they anticipated this particular work would be completed by Dec. 12.

The building is located at 501 East Hill Avenue. It was bought in October 2020 by a venture capital firm co-founded by a Beverly Hills billionaire.

The distinctive pyramid-shaped hotel, near the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, opened in 1972. It has a 12-story open lobby and more than 400 rooms.

In June, a fire was also reported inside the building. The Knoxville Fire Department said in that case, several mattresses and pieces of furniture were on fire in the ballroom area.

Over the decades, it operated as a hotel under several different owners and names, including as a Marriott. The fire was reported while crews worked to renovate the building.

The project would not be getting financial assistance from other sources like PILOT programs, Historic Tax Credits or others, according to the application.

It will include workspaces, retail spaces and restaurants. It will also have up to 20 positions for staff workers and maintenance.

Credit: Downtown Knoxville Alliance

The total cost of the project is around $19 million, according to the application. That number includes around $821,000 in public domain improvements and around $4 million in other improvements. It says they also worked with architects and engineers focused on mechanical, electrical and plumbing services.

Around $7.98 million of funding comes from Omninet Melrose LLC, the owner of Melrose Knoxville LLC. They are also taking a Bank of America loan for around $10.98 million, according to the application.

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