July 13, 2005 - Mayor Bill Haslam's administration
will recommend to City Council at a Thursday workshop that space in
downtown Knoxville's Emporium Building be built-out to accommodate
arts and community uses currently located at the Candy Factory.
The administration's proposal would create a unified arts district
at the north end of Gay Street that would also compliment the venues
that have evolved further south on Gay Street with the restoration
of the Tennessee Theatre, upcoming revitalization of the Bijou and
the planned Regal Cinema.
The Emporium Building, opened in July 2004, is home to the Arts
& Culture Alliance of Knoxville and nine other arts and cultural
organizations. Additionally, the building houses studio and gallery
space for individual artists and the University of Tennessee's Downtown
"Supporting the growing and energized arts district that
is taking hold on Gay Street is a smart way for the City to promote
a vibrant arts community, while creating an environment that encourages
coordination and joint promotion," Mayor Haslam said.
The Emporium's first floor contains about 5,000 square feet that
would be built out to replicate the arts uses on the seventh floor
of the Candy Factory, including dance studios and meeting rooms.
The building's owner will make the space available to the City at
$3.15 per square foot, far below market rate.
The City would require World's Fair developer Kinsey Probasco Hayes
to fund the $200,000 build-out at the Emporium.
The administration's recommendation differs from the developer's
original proposal to encourage arts uses in the Victorian Houses
at the World's Fair Park.
After listening to many comments about the benefits of artists
and arts organizations being located in one facility, the administration
is recommending the Emporium as the best solution because it capitalizes
on the arts district already forming on Gay Street and the City's
investment in that district.
Mayor Haslam announced in April 2004 the City's intention to redevelop
its assets at World's Fair Park, which includes the Candy Factory,
Victorian Houses and the Sunsphere. The buildings are in poor physical
condition and significantly underused.
The City issued a request for proposals to renovate the buildings
for new uses, and selected Kinsey Probasco Hays to as the preferred
The selection process included public access to all the responses,
and interviews by the evaluation committee with four finalists were
open to the public.
KPH's winning proposal included securing tenants and sharing in
the cost of renovations necessary to reopen the Sunsphere, the only
proposal that addressed a use for the Knoxville icon. The developer
also has proposed purchasing and renovating the Candy Factory and
Victorian Houses for primarily residential use. The City would realize
roughly $1.8 million from the KPH plan.
City Council's special workshop on World's Fair Park redevelopment
will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 14, in the Small Assembly
Room of the City County Building.