9, 2007 - A ribbon cutting celebrated the opening of the renovated
studio and meeting room space on the first floor of the Emporium Building
this morning after dancers warmed up in the newly completed space.
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam; Liza Zenni, executive director of
the Arts & Culture Alliance of Knoxville; the Alliance's chairman,
Jeff Chapman and Jon Kinsey, the developer whose firm renovated
the 5,000-square-foot space were among those who took part in the
"This is a great day that a lot of people have been eagerly
waiting for," Haslam said. "This space fills a need that
we've had for several months and it's going to be a great addition
to the Emporium Building and to the entire city."
The Emporium Building, located at 100 S. Gay Street, is home to
the Arts & Culture Alliance, several artists' studios and a
handful of other organizations devoted to various arts.
The City of Knoxville leases the century-old building from its
owner, developer David Dewhirst.
The newly renovated first floor fills a need that has existed
since the city sold the Candy Factory and Victorian Houses to Kinsey
Probasco Hays, a Chattanooga-based development firm, last year.
As part of that deal Kinsey Probasco Hays agreed to renovate the
floor to replace dance studio and meeting room space that had been
in the Candy Factory.
The $1.82 million the city received from the sale of the Candy
Factory and the Victorians - which cumulatively needed at least
$3 million to $4 million in improvements - funded a $1 million renovation
of the Sunsphere and an ongoing $850,000 renovation of the Tennessee
"With the sale of those buildings were able to make improvements
to those two World's Fair icons and develop this wonderful space,
without using taxpayer funds," Haslam said. "So it has
been a winning situation for everyone."
million dollars that had been earmarked for the Sunsphere improvements
has now been shifted into upcoming sidewalk projects in the Fountain
City and Austin-East High School areas.
Dancers from Circle Modern Dance warmed up as visitors streamed
into the space for the ceremony Thursday.
The building is located on a block that has become home to several
galleries and artists and has become one of the central focal points
of the city's artistic community.
"This just adds a great piece to the fabric of what has become
a thriving arts center in our city," Haslam said.