May 3, 2011 -
The City of Knoxville began implementing a streetscape improvements project today on the 300 block of N. Gay Street between Depot Street and Magnolia Avenue.
The improvements range from replacing old infrastructure - like storm drains and water supply lines - and moving the utilities underground to adding new landscaping elements and decorative street lighting to the block. The work is expected to take about four months to complete and will not require closing the street on a regular basis.
There will be a few, brief closures for specific construction activities and the city will work the contractor, Southern Constructors, to give property and business owners as much notice as possible about those infrequent street closings.
Crews are also slated to begin work shortly up the street on the 600 block of N. Gay Street, from 5th Avenue to Emory Place, making similar improvements. The water lines on the 600 block of Gay are more than 100 years old and construction on that block is expected to continue throughout the spring and summer.
The landscape work at both sites will not occur until this fall to take advantage of the better conditions for planting and plant survivability.
The projects are part of the city's ongoing Downtown North Redevelopment Area - a revitalization initiative that began in 2008 with improvements to a six-block section of North Central Street.
The revitalization initiative has progressed steadily since then. It rose out of the interest many people have expressed in living or operating businesses in the century old area north of downtown that once featured thriving businesses and neighborhoods.
The City of Knoxville ultimately would like to see the main streets in Downtown North become more of a mixed-use zone with residential, retail and business elements - in the same buildings in some cases - facing pedestrian and bicyclist-friendly streets.
More information about Downtown North including its geographic boundaries and past projects is available at www.cityofknoxville.org/downtownnorth.