|City Restripes/Repaves Parts of Downtown North / I-275 Redevelopment Area
|December 2, 2011 -
Crews will be re-striping North Central Avenue from Woodland to Emory Place and repaving portions of North Gay Street and Depot Street today as the city completes a pair of projects in the Downtown North/I-275 Redevelopment Area.
The resurfacing of the 300 and 600 blocks of Gay Street and W. Depot Street puts the final touches on a series of improvements around the Regas Square and Emory Place areas.
Those improvements included:
Replacing old infrastructure like storm drains and a century-old water pipe
Moving utilities underground,
Adding landscaping elements like mature trees
And installing decorative light fixtures
The re-striping work along North Central, which will take place throughout the weekend, continues the initial Downtown North/I-275 Redevelopment Area project – a revitalization effort the city began in 2008 to improve a six-block section, from Woodland to Baxter Avenues, in the Happy Hollow district.
The work featured a road diet that reduced the previously four-lane street down to a lane of traffic either way with a turn lane, added additional on-street parking, bike lanes, wider sidewalks, landscaping and streetscape improvements.
It was designed to make the street more business and pedestrian-friendly and the area has seen significant new business development since it was completed.
The re-striping this weekend continues the road diet on North Central from Pearl Place south to Emory place. That section of North Central will be reduced to two lanes with turn lanes at intersections. Eventually there will also be sidewalk improvements along that stretch.
Crews will also go back over the previously re-striped sections of the street all the way back to Woodland.
"The city's goal is to perform infrastructure and other improvements that make the Downtown North area more attractive for businesses and residents," said Bob Whetsel, the city's redevelopment director. "This whole effort grew out of the interest a lot people had in living or operating a business in the neighborhoods just north of downtown."
"We can't do everything we want to do there at once, but every year we've made steady progress in helping homeowners and merchants revitalize what had historically been a thriving part of Knoxville," he added.
The city would ultimately like to see the main streets in Downtown North, like Gay, North Central and Broadway 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.
The city is also in the early stages of developing detailed plans for an I-275 Business Park Road that would run along I-275 from Baxter Avenue to 17th Street. It would connect the old commercial/industrial sites in the area hopefully encouraging new business development.
Knoxville will also use a $400,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant in the coming year to survey some former industrial properties within the redevelopment area. The city has already seen new development in Brownfield areas and hopes to continue that trend.
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