|Public Comments on City Owned Assets at World's Fair Park
| In April of 2004, Mayor
Bill Haslam sought public input to aid in determining the future of
city-owned assets at World's Fair Park. Those assets include the Tennessee
Amphitheater, Sunsphere, Knoxville Convention & Exhibition Center, Candy
Factory and Victorian Houses. Comments were received through June 7,
2004. Below are the comments that were emailed to the City and are under
The only lasting legacy of Knoxville is World’s
Fair Park. Knoxville showed the world what it could do if it set out
to do it back in 1982.
The solution to the Sunsphere is easy. Open it up for people to once
again use the Level 4 and 8 as Observations gallery’s. Tie that in with
the KCC and public tours. You can show the history in a 360 degree panorama
unlike any other building in Knoxville.
Levels 5-7 should be turned back into a restaurant, like it was during
the fair. Imagine a sleek conference at the KCC, walking out onto the
terrace along waters of the world. Over to one of 3 elevators that whisk
you up to the top to a wonderful dinner. Or even just some fast food/medium
food restaurants, there is nothing there to eat when you attend a function.
The TN Amp, the Victorian Houses, and the Candy Factory should be incorporated
to become Knoxville’s arts community. Encouraging local artist exhibits
in the Candy Factory as well as maybe some night clubs or other venues.
The houses can serve a variety of functions from art guilds, ect ect
ect. Even return one to its former glory as a Victorian and use it as
the official city house used for guest to the city.
Regardless, no more development should take place. Leave the green where
it is at. Leave the few remaining symbols of Knoxville’s greatest show
ever. The thing that put Knoxville on the map. Return them to the mixed
use redevelopment that was planned for 1983. With a state of the art
convention center, fine dining atop the Sunsphere, and the arts community
tied with the TN Amp and the lawn, will make that area of World’s Fair
Park a world class venue for the arts.
Just imagine, Knoxville, where history meets the future. Art is the
link to our past. The Environment is our future. The sunsphere the constant
reminder that the sun is one constant Knoxville has always had
We should utilize the Sunsphere in some way. at the very least an observation
deck needs to be open. We can't deny its existence and therefore should
embrace it and use it to our advantage.
I am a native Knoxvillian who recently movewde back to the city after
being gone for 9 years. I can't believe that we are still talking about
what to do with the world's fair park!!! Anyway these are my suggestion.
1.) How about a huge water park facility with the amphitheater as a
entertainment venue. I think that whatever is attempted will fail unless
activities for children are included. Lots of trees and cool spots and
of coarse a "lazy river" water ride.
2.) How about a botanical garden coupled with a large playground for
children. Ducks and Dinosaurs with lots of native East Tn plants Etc.
I really love what has been done with the World's Fair Park area so
far, especially the opening up of the bridge linking Henley to 11th
Street. My friends and I frequently get coffee at the 11th Street Espresso
House, and I've been to several events at the KMA. I have a couple of
1) The Sunsphere needs to be opened to the public! This could be a real
tourist moneymaker, I would think. It could have an observation deck/area,
a snack shop of some kind, maybe open it up to groups, like high school
proms or wedding receptions. It needs to be utilized!
2) The lawn at the World's Fair Park needs to be opened up for concerts
again. In high school I attended many wonderful shows there, it's a
great space for some great acts that might not fit any of the indoor
venues in town.
3) There should be some kind of sandwich shop or little inexpensive
bistro restaurant in one of the old Victorian houses near the Espresso
House. Something that was open on the weekends, that the families who
go to Fort Kid could use. Or maybe a bakery/ice cream parlor.
I believe that all of the WFP buildings except for the Exhibition Ctr
should be placed under an H1 overlay.
The Victorian Houses should have façade easements donated to Knox Heritage
and be returned to private ownership for use as gallery, restaurant
or residential use only. The western most parking lot (between 11th
& former 10th) should be redeveloped into 2 rows of 3 or 4 story rowhouses
with one row fronting on each street and vehicular access in between
The Candy Factory should be restored and become a live/work building
for artists with an exhibit space (look at the Hugh McCall Center for
the Arts in Charlotte) mixed with restaurants on the main level and
upper level where the deck is and outdoor dining on the deck and the
main patio. The basement can be left as is as a place for various arts
The TN Amphitheater should be restored and put back into use or completely
removed – no storage building should be placed there as previously mentioned.
The Sunsphere should be restored and put back in use with a restaurant
bar at the top and bottom.
Additionally, the KMA should have a grand entrance from the north lawn
of the WFP.
Knoxville is a beautiful city. As a resident of Oak Ridge traveling
to Knoxville the very first landmark that I look for is the Sunsphere
as a guide.
I would like to recommend that the Tower become "A Beam of Pride". New
York had the Twin Towers and Knoxville has it's own, the Sunsphere.
I suggest it becomes a "Revolving Tour Tower during the day and at night
it becomes the revolving "Beam of Pride" with lights that will reflect
from all the glass panels to form the beautiful sunsphere it is at night.
The "Beam of Pride" will be a landmark to be recognized by everyone
who comes into Knoxville and to the downtown area not only during the
day but especially during the night!
I am a resident of the Ft. Sanders neighborhood and live approximately
6 blocks from Worlds Fair Park. I am keenly interested in its continued
redevelopment and improvement. I understand that the City is considering
what to do with the assets in the part that it owns. These include the
Victorian houses on 11th street, the Sunsphere, the Amphitheater, the
Candy Factory, and the old convention center. My comments on each of
these are below and, to the extent that they make any sense to anyone
other than myself, I hope you will consider them:
1. The Victorian Houses. These should be retained and promoted for viable
businesses that could serve the park and neighborhood community. The
11th Street cafe is a good example of such a business. Additional small
restaurants or cafes should be considered. Further, the city should
consider aiding the businesses that are located in these buildings with
common, collective signage similar to that used by commercial real estate
developers for shopping centers. Two signs, one on each side of the
buildings on 11th and perhaps one on the back looping road between Ft.
Kid and the KMA would be useful.
2. Sunsphere. This is an emblem of Knoxville and should be refurbished
and retained. Nothing fancy * exterior paint and de-justification. Potential
uses include office space and a rentable event hall for catered events
with a view. Perhaps an exclusive contract with a caterer for the space
could be obtained and the space could be marketed in conjunction with
the new convention center.
3. The amphitheater. Talk about demolition by neglect. Assuming that
this has not gone too far, the basic structure should be cleaned and
repaired for use. If it is prohibitively expensive to repair the canvas
and steel cover, that should be removed and a newly designed, modernized
cover should be incorporated * perhaps one that allows sight lines from
the Sunsphere side. The amphitheater is the perfect size for events
and performances of a size that can reasonably be expected.
4. The Candy Factory. Can this be privatized? Perhaps with a dedication
of certain floors to public or quasi-public purposes? If structured
as a long term (a 30 to 99 year?) lease with city/landlord consent of
business plans and modifications (not to be unreasonably withheld),
I would think that the private market might well provide a developer
with ideas to make use of this large commercial space in the center
of the area. Mixed use office/retail/meeting space ought to be considered.
But I do think that the best way of accomplishing that is to use a private
5. Old convention center. Can this be retained and, perhaps, subdivided
to provide community meeting/auditorium space and, perhaps, small retail?
Again, a public/private partnership is probably the most effective way
to handle its development. That's it. Just some thoughts from a nearby
resident. The work the City has done on the park in the last few years
is great. It is part of the jewel that downtown Knoxville can be.
I truly think the Sunsphere and Tenn. Amphitheater have been underused
resources which need to be rennovated and utilized on a regular basis.
There needs to be an innovative lighting scheme to illuminate the Sunsphere
at night. This could be a scheme that varies each month or at least
with the seasons. There have been numerous ideas for the interior, but
I think there should at least be one area designated as a permanent
museum of World's Fair memorabilia. There was a similar display a couple
of years ago at the local History Museum which I believe drew good crowds.
I continue to think that the right type of restaurant would be successful,
but this will take some further research.
I have fond memories of seeing many well-known performers at the Amphitheater
during the Fair, and I think this is a great intimate venue. People
are coming downtown again for live entertainment, so I certainly think
there is a market for people to sit down and listen to outdoor concerts.
I can imagine that some local bands like the Lonesome Coyotes would
probably fill the place.
The main thing I would suggest is to continue this process of listening
to the public as opposed to hiring high-priced consultants. People will
generally tell you what will fly if you ask their opinion. I'm a 55
year old native Knoxvillian, and I see this city on the verge of possibly
achieving some things which have not been possible since the Fair closed.
Let's not let the opportunity slip away.
Saw the brief in the paper about the city determining the future of
World's Fair Park. My family and I moved here in the Fall and visited
the Park for the first time for the Talahi Plant Sale. We loved the
sale and the park. Our children had a wonderful time with the water
fountain. Since moving here we've found it difficult to find secular
mourning and daytime community activities for the family. We moved here
from Davis, California. Davis has a Farmer's Market in the park every
Saturday morning and Wednesday late afternoon. There is a fountain for
the kids to play in, street musicians, a bicycle powered carousel, a
play ground, yummy treats from local bakeries/coffee houses and, of
course, the market (selling locally grown organic and conventional fruits,
veggies, honey, cheese, nuts, etc.). I think hosting such a farmer's
market at the World's Fair Park would be a great way to draw people
to the park and to provide a much needed place to entertain families
on a weekly basis while supporting good eating habits, local businesses,
crafts people and farmers. It's working in Davis, perhaps Knoxville
should give it a try.
I am in favor of spending money to renovate the Tennessee Amphitheater,
Sunsphere, Candy Factory and the Victorian homes. These are part of
Knoxville's history and deserve to be kept in good repair and fully
functional. As for the KCEC, I would like to see if part of this could
be turned into retail space while some could be saved for community
activities and functions.
The World's Fair Park and its buildings are a tremendous, yet under
utilized, asset to the people of Knoxville. My vision is to make the
Park a public asset that the public wants to use, and uses frequently.
A place for public recreation and public function. I think the Park
has the potential to be Knoxville's greatest public asset. That said,
I have been very disappointed at the lack of renovations to the Sunsphere
and Amphitheater. Why were millions of dollars spent on the convention
center, yet 50 feet away the awning around the Sunsphere is filthy.
It's a half day pressure washing job which could be done for very little
money, yet hasn't been done and makes the whole place look bad. What
a turn off. Along the same lines, but more expensive, the Amphitheater...
It needs to be fixed. I'm sure that with a little effort we could find
a public sponsor to fix it up. It will probably mean naming the Amphitheater
for the company that pays to fix it up, but so what, limit the renaming
to a certain number of years. We would get a great public space without
any additional taxes. Either that or try to get the public to throw
more money down there, either way people will not like it, which is
probably why nothing has been done.
The grounds of the park look great, but there are very few people using
them. How about a recreational center at the Park ...a climbing tower?
How about an exercise trail with work-out stations throughout the Park
- make a trail around the Great Lawn. Speaking of which, why not put
a soccer field (for flats only) on it. I know the master plan calls
that the Performance Area, and I can't wait for concerts to return there,
but once again, why can't the space be multi-functional? Assigning it
a specific role limits its function to something that occurs very seldom.
It's all about multi-tasking these days.
The Convention Center should be reviewed for its potential as a multi-functional
civic building. To be successful, it must be opened up to greater public
use. Perhaps it should become primarily a community center and secondarily
a place for conventions. Cities all over the country have built convention
centers which occupy a big piece of land that the general public gets
very little use out of, costs too much to operate, and are vacant most
of the time. They are much like NFL stadiums, except much less profitable.
The competition for convention space is tough, and unlike other places,
there is no unique attraction for conventions that I can see to draw
people to our center. Beyond the general practicality of having conventions
there, other chief complaints I've heard about the center are that the
management is impossible to work with, the center is over-priced, and
the parking is expensive not to mention distant. Charging people for
parking is not going to work when there are other places people can
(and will) go outside of downtown where parking is free and convenient.
In the whole scheme of things free parking is a small subsidy if it
mean getting people to use the facility.
If the convention center was a community center, and the UT convention
center across the street became the new library, a new civic core could
be created by linking the two. See if you can make these things happen.
The City of Louisville, KY use to have Heritage Weekends on the Belvedere,
a man made park over the River Front Expressway (I-64) and a parking
garage. Each weekend during the summer a different heritage (Hispanic,
Irish, Greek, African, etc.) would organize and present foods / items
for sell / historical/ethnic music. They also hosted the Blue Grass
Festival of the Americas at the same site until the thought of people
enjoying the fountains by getting in them turned their PC stomachs.
The World Fair Park is a great asset that should be utilized to the
utmost. Yes it would be work and require organization, but such commitment
by the city would bring in new businesses and the area would be allowed
to define itself. While the city could declare a Development Zone and
assist a thriving climate instead of micro-managing a fishbowl. Let's
give the area a chance to achieve more than any one person or group
Having a front seat view every day of the activity and inactivity within
the confines of World's Fair Park, I would have to say that my greatest
concern is for the Tennessee Amphitheater. For months, it has been argued
back and forth what exactly should be done with it. Based on its current
state, it appears to be obvious what the city's stance is. As it sits
rusting and unusable, it only continues to deteriorate, and will eventually
reach the point at which restoring it will be such an undertaking that
any fiscal conservative will have to conclude that it will need to be
This should not be allowed to happen. The Tennessee Amphitheater is
the only architecturally significant remainder of the World's Fair.
The Sunsphere is not universally reviled, but even those of us who are
fond it as the kitschy emblem of an odd little Fair will never suggest
it as a great moment in architecture.
In the redevelopment of the Park, I have watched them pour the sidewalks,
dig up the sidewalks, repour the sidewalks; plant the trees, dig up
the trees, replant the trees; install the fountain, dig up the fountain,
fix the fountain, dig up the fountain, fix the fountain, dig up the
fountain, fix the fountain. With this amount of effort spent on perfecting
the new parts of the Park, it seems inconceivable that the older parts
have been left unmaintained for as long as they have. The fountain now
plays "Who Let the Dogs Out" to the entertainment of no one most days
at lunchtime. With warmer days coming in the summer, I'm sure it will
be more popular, but use and liveliness in the Park would be better
served in any case by a concert venue than by a play area for suburban
kids. But keep the fountain, keep the lawn, keep the L&N and its Depot;
the Victorian Houses and the Candy Factory aren't going anywhere; the
Sunspere and the Convention Center are under no threat. I'm sure, however,
that there are those who will say that the Tennessee Amphitheater is
a rusting, unsafe, padlocked eyesore. It could easily have been kept
from becoming one. Though no longer as easily, it should be restored
from being one.
Send someone down to Chattanooga to look at what they have done along
the waterfront - lots of good stuff there. Bring in solid attractions
(too bad Knoxville already let the Smokies leave town and that they
brought in the eyesore Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and even put
that in a terrible location (though it shouldn't have been built to
begin with)). Definitely remove the eyesore known as the Sunsphere and
minimize the association (leave it out entirely if possible) with the
university. That is the only way Knoxville might develop a personality
of its own.
I am a citizen of Knox County and work for the Knoxville school system.
I would love to see the renovation of the World's Fair Area. We have
lost so much of Knoxville's history due to progress and I think people
would be attracted to this area if allowed. The sunshere may be a great
place for a restaurant and I'm sure the convention center could be used
for a multitude of things.
I understand that economic development is important to downtown, but
The Candy Factory is crucial to another important aspect of downtown
revitalization... non-profit arts. The rehearsal spaces on the 7th floor
are the main place that most area arts organizations use. None of them
can afford to rent space, and there is NO rehearsal space planned at
the Emporium Building. Drawing people into downtown is certainly accomplished
by having a place such as the Candy Factory where the area non-profits
hold meetings, rehearsals, and performances. We eat and drink downtown,
shop downtown, and park downtown. With city funding for non-profits
at an all-time low, is this really the time to kick everyone out of
the Candy Factory too? Keep the Candy Factory as it is... a central
hub for the non-profit arts organizations that are helping build downtown
I am a graduate student in environmental science at the University of
TN-Chattanooga with a concentration in environmental policy/management.
My thesis focus is assessing sustainable development and the utilization
of efficient land-use schemes in a central business district.
The Tennessee Amphitheater, Sunsphere, Knoxville Convention & Exhibition
Center, Candy Factory and Victorian Houses are the areas of main focus
in rebuilding, redeveloping, and taking ownership of this particular
area. The driving point is to find a way to sustain the past heritage
of this area and promote new opportunities for today and for the future.
This is the principle in which a lot of central business districts are
doing to get people back into old, sometimes dilapidated, and forgotten
areas. Some suggests for this area could be to:
1) Capitalize on the surroundings - Look at the key initiatives that
made the Worlds Fair in Knoxville popular, such as economic incentives,
people/community input, and tourism. A historical perspective to see
how this area evolved.
2) Capitalize on UTK- What relationship can be established in this particular
to incorporate student activities and campus events. Look at local business
offices in the area. The city/county offices in the hotel, the new Convention
Center, and the University Center, cater to these groups needs for for
input thru surveys, so that there is one known source of contiuous revenue
for this goal. Utilize some of the space in the lower lobby of the Hotel
and a portion the the building that occupies the Candy Factory to house
small restaurants that these companies may want in the area. This can
all be incorporated as another after hours area to get people back downtown.
3) Focus on the areas of an area that environmental friendly - An eco-friendly
area, such as a playground with an environmental agenda and walking
path or a small greenway. 4) Utilize the "Live After Five" and Museum
as key events to get people into the area. The can utilize aspects of
the community and the government as stakeholders. Again another point
to have an area to dine and enjoy the World's Fair Grounds.
I think Knoxville needs an enclosed dog park where dog owners can bring
their dogs and turn them loose to run and play. Maybe part of the site
could be devoted to this type of use. Many other cities have provided
their residents this type of facility. Another possible location for
a dog park would be Northshore Park. I'm sure there are many other parks
in the city as well where this type of facility would be useful.
I am responding to Knoxville's desire to hear public input about the
WFP. I think the Amphitheater, especially, adds a wonderful dimension
to the park. I know it will take money to make it safe, but it would
be worth it as at adds a bright and airy aspect, plus being a useful
venue when operational. The Sunsphere is a part of a lot of business
logos that represent Knoxville so it has to be a part of the park. The
Candy Factory is an historic building so deserves a valued place - unfortunately
it is somewhat of a rabbit warren of halls and rooms which is unfortunate.
The interior needs to be opened up. Keep the building but make the space
more functional and attractive. Having a wonderful multi-story interior
courtyard surrounded by visible levels of shops or businesses would
make it a much more pleasing place to shop or take guests. It is hard
to even tell what and where the shops currently are; at the very least,
a prominent Directory should be available. It doesn't feel "safe" inside
as it has a lot of empty and walled spaces. The Victorian Houses are
lovely and the concept of their being rented by demonstrating artists
is a good one. If the Candy Factory were more of a mecca then the houses
would get more business. The park is an incredible location, within
such easy walking distance of downtown hotels etc. Since our waterfront
is pretty limited already because of businesses located there, the WFP
should be a tourist destination.
I am a patron of the Knoxville Fine Arts and Crafts Center and would
like to express my concern over the future of the Candy Factory. My
children have attended over fourty workshops over the years at the facility.
Through the drama camps, I have seen my introverted shy little boy blossom
into an articulate young man who recently won a science fair at his
If there is an opportunity to speak directly with Mayor Haslam or anybody
else, I would be willing to take off work and meet. I have countless
other stories to tell.
I work as a curriculum facilitator for Knox County Schools and see first
hand the benefits of such a meaningful program.
I know our budget looks grim, but who can put a price on a good education........
I am a student at the University of Tennessee and I live very close
to the World's Fair Park. I love what has been done with the downtown
area and all the talk of other improvements. I would really like to
see the sunsphere opened. I have always wanted to go to the top as many
people that I know have. It would be a great attraction for people in
the area and tourists. The idea for a movie screen or movie night in
the park is also a great idea. I also loved all the concerts that were
held there during the summer. I would definately participate in any
of these activities as I am sure many other residents and students would.
Thanks for putting all of this effort into making downtown Knoxville
a more beautiful and exciting place.
I was around 9 years old when the World's Fair was here, and it was
the most wonderful thing I had encountered at that young age. I didn't
fully understand much of it, but I knew it was important. Unfortunately,
as things often do, the city moved on and left the World's Fair largely
forgotten. I remember the sad day when as a freshmen or sophomore at
UT the US Pavilion, a rusted, crumbling hulk by then, was torn down
and became the usual parking lot. Today the site is better known for
fireworks displays and concerts which have now been so long ago, they
have nearly faded to memory.
In 2003 I began to take a renewed interest in the World's Fair site,
and began discovering where the buildings used to be, and what has become
of it since. I must say that I am very pleased with the way the current
World's Fair Park looks, and how it's designers have tried to maintain
the tradition of the World's Fair in keeping some of the water features
and recreating the Court of Flags. Despite these wonderful changes,
I would venture to say that most people around the area never give the
idea of the World's Fair a second thought when they look at the site.
Many who either weren't here in 1982 or were too young to have attended
probably don't know much at all about the World's Fair.
In my researching the site, I have found that there are still many indications
of the World's Fair left for people to see, but many unfortunately have
fallen into a status of "unused space". For example, the UT side of
the site is simply a parking lot, and the pathway that used to lead
to the "Crown Jewel" of the World's Fair, the Chinese, Egypt, and Peruvian
pavilions, is now an overgrown vagrant hang-out. I know the City of
Knoxville doesn't officially own some of the spaces that used to be
part of the World's Fair grounds, but this disuse has actually preserved
some memories and artifacts of the Fair that might have been lost otherwise.
When I read the article in the Daily Beacon, (UT's student newspaper),
about Mayor Haslam requesting ideas for the future of the site, I nearly
couldn't believe the coincidence. Although I haven't been thinking that
much about the site for all that long, I have come to have some very
definite ideas about how the World's Fair could be reintroduced to the
World's Fair Park. As I mentioned before, there are many new features
in the park that are based on some aspects of the World's Fair, but
the hallmarks of the Fair risk falling to ruin much as the US Pavilion
regrettably did long ago. I understand that restoring the Sunsphere
and the Tennessee Amphitheater would be costly, but if this site is
to remain the "World's Fair Park", I believe these two buildings are
the most important aspect of the site's future. Whatever may be done
with these buildings, I feel they must be preserved.
As for other ways to maintain the memory of the World's Fair on the
site, I would love to see a World's Fair museum included in the Park,
either in the old Convention Center building, (which used to be an important
part of the World's Fair itself), or possibly as an entirely new building,
constructed in the architectural style of the World's Fair's "pointy
tents" that used to be found all over the Fair grounds. Of course if
this option were chosen, it would most likely have to be enclosed, but
I feel keeping that style of building would serve to remind the people
of Knoxville what the World's Fair used to be. If the idea of the museum
were ever to come to fruition, I have an interesting artifact I would
love to contribute. Some years ago when the museum of art was being
built, the tree that was the centerpiece of the Elm Tree Theatre was
cut down. Wandering through the site on that day, I happened by the
fallen tree and remembered the many cultural attractions I and my family
attended under that tree that then lay there before me. Hoping I wasn't
breaking any laws, I took a small wedge of the cut wood that came from
the tree in memory of what it used to be. I still have that wedge of
wood, and would like to one day have a reason to return it to the place
that was once its home.
In keeping with this theme, I have thought for some time that it would
be very enlightening to have several places around the Fair grounds
have some sort of photo display showing what the vantage from that spot
would have looked like during the Fair. The article in the Beacon mentioned
the Victorian houses on 11th street. This would be a perfect spot for
one of these photo memorials. These houses were not just shops during
the World's Fair -- some of them were attractions in themselves, not
to mention the fact that they overlooked some of the busiest, most vibrant
parts of the World's Fair pavilions. With these "photo spots" or else
in places of their own, perhaps a type of posthumous "you are here"
map, placed at strategic points around the park showing what was on
that site during the World's Fair, could be made in the style of the
current World's Fair Park maps that are posted at several points.
Lastly, if none of what I have mentioned above ever comes to pass, or
even if it does, I think it would be most appropriate to have some area
of the park include a tribute to the World's Fair, the City of Knoxville,
and all the men and women who worked to make it a shining point of light
in this city's history. In keeping with the theme of the area of the
park that features the Rachmaninov statue, I thought some simple tribute
could be erected depicting the World's Fair emblem of the Flame, (an
emblem not displayed anywhere in the park to my knowledge), possibly
including a scale replica recreation of the World's Fair Park grounds
as it would have looked during the Fair.
As I mentioned, the World's Fair was and is dear to me, and it really
saddens me that its memory has been relegated to "local color" books
found at Barnes and Noble. People just don't remember, and as a result
they don't care. They have lived for over twenty years with the image
of the World's Fair Park as an empty, dirty, unpeopled space that no
one would really want to come to. Much as the Old City and the Riverfront
has been renewed and recreated, this site, the center of Knoxville's
role as host of the World for a few months, should be renewed and restored
and recreated, and done so in keeping with the tradition that created
it -- if not fully then at least in the spirit with which it has already
begun to be restored.
Mayor Haslam, I realize that money is always a factor, especially in
these times, but if there is a sincere desire to make the World's Fair
Park a place, not only for people to come and visit, but as a living
memory of why the site is called "World's Fair Park", changes such as
those I mentioned should, and almost must, be made. Otherwise the site
will always remain a sleeping giant, dreaming of its past glory instead
of awakening to a new glory, and a new life.
I have lived in Knoxville for 14 years and have grown up with the great
events at the Worlds Fair Park. I loved the Hot summer nights tours
from the late 90's and even looked forward to them returning.
My suggestion is not moving Sundown to World Fair, but instead similar
to all major towns, having a three day festival of music there. It should
showcase local, region and national (usually the headliners) musical
acts from all genre's. I would love nothing more than to get excited
about this annual festival of music instead of thinking about going
to Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta or Charlotte. While most of these towns
hold their the first weekend of May, ours could be in the middle of
may, or even Memorial day. Regardless, I think that is a definite must
for the fair grounds. They look fantastic, we just need the events of
old (the July 4th jazz concert with fireworks) and the new events to
make it the "must go to" spot. And, it's a LOT closer to campus relatively
speaking so even more students would be able to get there.
I'm very excited to see what happens over the next year. Since it's
late in this year, we could even have the concert in the middle of August
because there is down time between when the students move in and when
classes start. That would be a great way to get people excited about
the upcoming year. Please use my consideration, as I speak for many
My husband and I are very new to the area, but have lived numerous other
places, being exposed to many wonderful metropolitan environments. The
one thing that Knoxville has the perfect opportunity to do to utilize
the buildings down at World's Fair Park is to put together a Science
Center. We have been members of or visited them in Seattle, Minneapolis,
and Denver. Most of the traffic is drawn out to Sevierville or Pigeon
Forge and as family oriented as it is what do kids learn from going
there. The location is right, the resources are right, and the ideas
are there. If this should become a reality, I would like to be a pioneer
contributing factor in bringing it to fruition.
I would like to speak of my direct knowledge of Candy Factory. It already
adds to the vitality of downtown Knoxville. It also enhances the surrounding
neighborhood. I go there on a regular basis to art classes and also
to some business meetings. It always has something going on. Not just
one thing but several-enrichment activities of various kinds. People
come from the convention center to buy candy or browse and buy at the
numerous galleries that are presently housed in the Candy Factory. I
have also seen many people there getting information about other parts
of town. This is vitality. To have art live in a down town is wonderful!
It compliments the museum, convention center, hotels. Art and other
experiences are being made available to people of Knoxville in the middle
of downtown and at a nominal cost. The city would lose if these services
were no longer available or if they were moved to one section of town
or another. People of all ages participate here. Various groups also
hold meetings here as it is convenient for everyone-both Knoxville and
surrounding counties. Perhaps some effort needs to go toward expanding
to evening activities for more usage rather than even thinking of doing
away with this usage of this historical building. It should not be put
in the hands of private people or corporations. It is part of our history,
and it continues making our history as it is. Some modernizations of
the building would facilitate all that goes on there, however the uniqueness
of the original building should not be lost.
The Sunsphere: This veritical landmark has lain fallow too long. I'm
glad to hear the city will invest $1 million to return it to its original
glory. It's the obvious tourist attraction, on par with the Space Needle
in Seattle. Why did we spend millions on consultants and pie in the
sky tourist attraction ideas when the answer has been right infront
of us all the time? Everyone wants to ascend the Sunsphere.
The Ampitheater: Once when I first moved to Knoxville I came upon an
orchestra playing under its white tarps and thought for a moment I was
back in San Francisco in Golden Gate Park. Unfortunately, I have never
had that experience again, but do think that the ampitherater restored
to its full potential could add culture to the park and downtown. I
think High School Bands and the Symphony should practice there and I
definitely think that outdoor concerts should take place there again.
It is a very beautiful setting and one of our best attributes.
The Candy Factory: While I hate to kick out any thriving businesses,
I think converting the building to an apartment complex is perhaps the
most economically sound idea yet. I can't imagine the maintenance price
on that building. It would make beautiful apartments. I would like to
see businesses in the lower floors. Please keep the Fine Arts and Crafts
Center as it is one of the city's best contributions to its citizens.
The Victorian Houses: Keep them where they are and restore them. If
the Candy Factory is made into apartments the 11th St. Cafe will thrive
The Convention Center: Have Victor make monthly donations out of his
I have lived in Knoxville for one and a half years now, and I am very
excited about the redevelopment of the downtown area. As far as the
World's Fair Park is concerned, I would definitely like to see the Sun
Sphere open to the public. I am sure it would be attractive to many
tourists coming to Knoxville. Every single friend we had over from out
of town had asked if we could go there. I would also suggest that plays
and movies are played in the amfitheater during summer. Some open restaurants
would also be nice in the inner side of the area.
Please use the word "restore" when you talk of the Victorian Houses.
They are truly beautiful. I am thankful they have been saved and would
have been ashamed of Knoxville if they had not. Also, I enjoyed then
during the world's fair and still feel a thrill when I see them now.
I would like to make a comment, suggestion, and solution for the Sunsphere
and other WFP Buildings.
Last week, I talked briefly to Mr. Rountree with the Public Building
Authority about the Sunsphere and the bird problem. He mentioned the
mayor was commited to reopening the Sunsphere for visitors. Today, I
read the News- Sentinel comments about more birds visit the Sunsphere
My suggestion is to install a bird control system that would eliminate
the birds from roosting and nesting on the Sunsphere in a humane, non-lethal,
nearly- invisible, self maintaining , and noise free way.
A solution is the Bird Repel (www.birdrepel.net) system. Designed and
sold in South Knoxville at Fi-Shock, Inc, this two wire electrified
system is a fraction of the cost of other track systems and is installed
by a local pest control company. Bird Repel keeps the birds away with
a slight shock (like touching a static doorknob).
AS mentioned, I briefly talked to Mr. Rountree but I want to give this
information to all interested parties.
Please keep the Bird Repel in mind when solving the bird problem at
the Sunsphere. Our installer can provide advice on how to best handle
Please do keep the Sunsphere, and let's use it. A restaurant, as there
was during and following the World's Fair, would be wonderful, but only
if there is a provision for free or $1.00 parking while eating there.
Our daughter chose that restaurant for her 21st birthday dinner.
We, in South Knoxville, would certainly support a movie theater downtown
also. But there again, parking MUST be free, or everyone will choose
to drive further to avoid paying for parking.
Noticed your interest in restoring the Sunsphere and I wanted to e-mail
you and encourage you to consider to paint the grid the original color
of sky blue. The whole purpose of that color was so that it would blend
in with the sky! The hideous red and green that is now painted, is too
horrid for words!
I would like to comment on the Candy Factory in particular. I have,
for the past 6 months attended classes offered at the Candy Factory
(pottery). I love the facility and find the class hours, location and
the surroundings very wonderful. I would hate to see this arts and community
center removed from downtown Knoxville.
I understand that this unique building is in need of renovation, but
hope that the City will continue to support the arts and types of classes
currently offered at the Candy Factory. This is the type of atmosphere
that I think should be associated with downtown Knoxville. Please keep
a place for this type of activity in your plans.
I am pleased that the City of Knoxville is making available the opportunity
to comment on the disposition of City assets on the World's Fair Park.
I strongly favor retention of the Tennessee Amphitheatre, the Sunsphere,
and the Candy Factory.
The Amphitheatre structure is a unique outdoor pavilion. This venue
provides an excellent opportunity for community groups and for convention
activities. There are far too few performance opportunities for youth
groups which work very, very hard on their artistic creations, and there
is no mid-size outdoor venue for conventions. It is easy to say take
it down and to cite costs and benefits, but really only the costs are
known-- there has been no real effort to integrate use of this wonderful
public facility into the fabric of local performing arts, and no efforts
to market the facility for convention use as a break-out area or evening
The Sunsphere is the most identifiable residual from the World's Fair,
of course, and is also the most identifiable landmark from the interstate.
The offices of the Knoxville Convention and Visitors Bureau actually
worked pretty well in this facility, and certainly no one had any difficulty
in finding the structure. Like the Tennessee Amphitheatre, it has been
neglected in a rush of new initiatives. Like greenways and parks, the
excitement is in the creation. Maintenance and upkeep is not glamorous.
The structure provides a wonderful opportunity for viewing the heart
of the City and also provides an awesome place from which to watch fireworks.
Its exterior could provide nightly laser shows at virtually no cost,
drawing tourists and locals to the area. A restaurant on one level would
surely be an asset, particularly as more conventions and tourists are
brought to the City. These two structures are not old enough to be placed
on the national register of historic places, but they represent a part
of the City's history that is worth preserving. At Chilhowee Park, only
the bandstand is left from the National Conservation Exposition (Knoxville's
first world's fair) and the earlier Appalachian Expositions. It would
be a shame to have no public structures on the World's Fair site which
date from the 1982 World's Fair.
The Littlefield and Steer Candy Company Building also needs to be preserved,
but it would seem possible that the transformation of this facility
might be by private enterprise. The South's Finest Chocolate Factory
would well be expanded, and other activities that can pay an appropriate
rent to justify private investment could be added.
I believe that the City is subsidizing marginal businesses in the Victorian
houses-- subsidizing in ways that similar subsidies are not provided
in other areas of town. If these properties cannot carry their economic
weight, I would suggest that they be sold for residential use.
Surely we will not preserve the 5th Avenue Motel and tear down the Sunsphere
and the Tennessee Amphitheatre.
I have a comment on what the wonderful city of Knoxville should do about
the landmark/monument that we hold here. When you see a picture of the
Sunsphere, you automatically know that it has something to do with Knoxville.
I think that it is a monument and attracts tourists, and I certainly
think that the tourists that come to see it will be dissapointed when
they find nothing in it. We were even made fun of by the cartoon television
show "The Simpsons". When they decided to visit Knoxville for the wonderful
Sunsphere, and came to a huge dissapointment when they found that nothing
good or fun was there. I think that we should bring FAMOUS restaraunts
up to the Sunsphere. Yes, multiple restaraunts up to the Sunsphere.
I also think that there should be an overlook for tourists and local
Knoxvillians to enjoy. I am 14 years old, have lived in Knoxville all
of my life, have always wanted to see the inside of the Sunsphere, and
never have. I think that should change soon.
Knoxville is a very pretty city, however, it is known for its landmarks.
Do you want to leur tourists here and let them leave in dissapointment?
Me neither, so lets change that quickly, so that Knoxville can keep
its reputation for such a wonderful city. My name is Kevin Letsinger,
and I am a freshman at Austin-East Magnet High School. Although I am
zoned for Central. I see the Sunphere every morning and afternoon and
I think that something just as wonderful as the outside should be on
the inside of it. Because it doesn't matter what it looks like from
the outside, what is in the inside is what counts.
My idea for the Sunsphere at the World's Fair Park is for an event center
for events such as weddings, proms, parties, awards banquets, city meetings,
There are other places in the downtown area to hold such events, but
where else can you get the allure of a very unique venue, the nostalgia
of the 1982 World's Fair and the opportunity to raise money by charging
a very competitive, but fair, price for a very special event site that
will guarantee the success and the memorability (okay, not a word, but
it seems to fit the situation) of any family, city, business or school
I just wanted to write to you to say that the fomer south lawn of World's
Fair Park used to be the best venue to see a concert. While in school
at UT, my friends and I enjoyed seeing bands like The Allman Brothers,
Santana, Bela Fleck, Crosby Stills & Nash, and Widespread Panic at the
south lawn. Every year we looked forward to summer when we could go
to the downtown area to see an outdoor concert.
No one wants to go to Chilhowee park or Marble Springs to see these
shows. If the south lawn was used again for concerts it would bring
people back to downtown. I know we used to go to the old city once the
concert was over.
Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, and even Chattanooga have their own music
festivals every year. In Knoxville we have to go see concerts at Thompson
Bowling arena (which has terrible acoustics). When summertime comes,
I don't want to sit inside. I want to be outside where you can bring
a blanket and sit on the grass to watch a concert. Knoxville use to
be one of the great cities where popular bands would be welcomed. Now,
we are ignored for bigger and better cities around us. I don't see why
we should let this opportunity pass us by. By booking concerts at World's
Fair Park, entertainment tax dollars would be collected, people would
actually want to come downtown, and the businesses in the area might
even make some money.
Would like to see the amphitheatre touched up and spruced up a little
for Saturday in the Park concerts with local talents and bands and KSO.
Would really like to see the Sunsphere re-opened and as much of a Tourist
Attraction as it could be put to use such as a revolving restaurant
or the such.
Really think the Library would be a waste as it is not far from the
current library to a great one at U.T. Sprucing up the existing ones
scattered throughout town would make more sense to me.
Our non-profit group Project Management - East TN Chapter has been given
free space in the Candy Factory. As we are a professional association
with not much budget, I tremendously appreciate the City allowing us
the opportunity to have a "home." We are now able to conduct professional
project management seminars, hold our board meetings, and have a place
to keep our materials. I consider the City allowing us this space to
be one of the best things they have done.
Allowing the Candy Factory to be used by groups in the community is
wonderful. Please do not change it.
My comments are mostly in regard to the Sunsphere. It needs to be turned
back into something that everyone would like to and could enjoy. I think
that turning it back to a restaurant would be a terrific idea. I also
think that many tourists as well as Knoxville residents would agree.
There are many things that the Sunsphere could be turned into, but I
don't think that any of them would draw the same number of people as
a nice restaurant.
I have also enjoyed a number of concerts at the Tennessee Ampitheathre,
and part of it's magic was that it was not a huge auditorium or coliseum.
It will be greatly missed.
Just please don't let anything turn into a Starbucks!!
I am for new or updated projects as long as taxes or wheel taxes are
not involved. The taxes are high enough and it is had enough with gas
prices, house payments, food prices, insurance, car payments, wheel
taxes, Federal Government taxes. It seems we are being taxed to death
and I really feel sorry for the minimum wage earners and the fixed income
people they have no chance at all to live on their income it is pay
taxes or lose your house. Pay taxes and starve to death. All this while
the Government is living high on the revenue they collect from tax payers
and working people. I am also tired of everyone using the excuse of
the schools and teachers need a raise. They get money from the State,
Federal Government, the County Government, the City Government, and
still yet the parents have to pay out the kazoo for school supplies,
events or what ever they decide to do this week. The working class needs
a break! We can't pay everything and live. My sister has to live on
$600.00 dollars a month when our Government is sending billions of dollars
to the foreign countries. Charity begins at home and that is what the
working class is becoming, CHARITY CASES. Thanks for hearing me out.
We need a tax cut.
I think the sunsphere should continue to have an observation deck for
visitors and have an affordable restaurant. I would eat there all the
time for the view.
Knoxville should use the world's fair park to host large concert venues
similar to that of the past. In the Past acts such as Buddy Guy, Hootie
and the Blowfish, Widespread Panic, Santanna, the Allman Brothers, and
Dave Matthews have all played on the south lawn. Knoxville, unlike other
cities does not have a major area to host outdoor festivals, events,
etc. As can be seen by the success of other cities such as Memphis,
Nashville, and Atlanta, large revenues can be created by securing good
live entertainment. Another good example of a successful outdoor festival
occurs in Maryville at the foothills fall festival. If it works for
a city of 25,000 people why not Knoxville?
I have been traveling for years to festivals of rival cities and would
like to keep the revenue in the Knoxville area.
I am writing in regards to the revitilization of the Sunsphere. I submitted
a proposal (although poorly prepared) yesterday as my daughter and I
finally had to opportunity to see "what's up there". We were however,
asked to also complete this form.
After seeing the Sunsphere, I am even more convinced that my daughter's
idea of a Butterfly House or butterfly conservatory could work. First
of all, it would be a tourist destination which would generate it's
own revenue. Certainly someone like the Knoxville Zoo, Ijams Nature
Center or University of Tennessee could get behind a project such as
this. Perhaps the Stokely Foundation or even Pilot Corp (nudge, nudge)
could see the beauty of bringing one of East Tennessee most beautiful
creatures into the spotlight.
Just think of the educational value that a facility such as this could
bring to our area. Schools could have class trips to the Butterfly House
and learn how these creatures impact our area. Perhaps UT could use
a floor to study different breeds and mating habits and how they relate
to the Smoky Mountains. How about the local garden clubs hosting teas
in the small cafe that could be incorporated. The ideas are endless.
I realize that there could be stuctural problems to overcome regarding
the interior design But, what brings butterflies around...the sun...so
why not the sunsphere to attract the butterflies. Visually, it could
be incorporated. Perhaps the interior could be divided up into different
continents and as you move from section to section you contact butterflies
from different parts of the world, of course dedicating .at least one
section to our "natives". As I said, a small cafe for refreshments,
but nothing like a full meal, could be offered and of course, a gift
shop would be a must. The lighting seems to be good for what butterflies
And as far as the butterflies, they don't eat much and they surely don't
take up much space. I understand that there are strict rules for acquiring,
keeping and disposing of butterflies obtained from outside of the United
States but I feel that is just a small part of this. I am also aware
that they they may not be bred (based on information we received from
the Butterfly House, Sioux Falls, SD). Again, I don't think that should
stop us from considering this.
Finally, think how nice it would be to soar high above the clouds of
Knoxville with the butterflies. The effect of watching them with the
endless view behind them will really give the imagination something
to think about. It's a truly original idea for this area and I urge
you to consider this proposal. I am willing to help in anyway, whether
it be to research start up costs or just getting brochures etc sent
to us to start looking into this. We even went so far to mention it
to a few people while out and about yesterday and no one seemed to hate
the idea (at least not to my face!). So, how about it Knoxville, let's
consider a Butterfly House for our new downtown attraction. It would
really capture the essence of the new World's Fair Park.
I appreciate your time and consideration regarding this and I just ask
that you let me know if you think this idea won't fly. I won't be offended,
but I don't want to waste time if you have good reasons why it won't
Unfortunately, Thursday I missed the tour of the Candy Factory, Victorian
Houses and the Convention Center. However, I think the City should keep
the Candy Factory building and the Victorian houses, but should sell
the convention center if the opportunity even arises. I do not think
the Center will ever be a financial asset to the City, but always a
burden for the taxpayers.
I did get to take the tour of the sunsphere and enjoyed the view. It
is my understanding that it can be operated at a low cost to the taxpayers
and may even break-even if a fee of $1.00 or $2.00 were charged to go
the observation deck and the other floors rented out for private parties.
It is also probably too expensive to tear down and it seems fit with
the parks surroundings. I would support the policy of spending funds
for maintaining the sunsphere and opening it to the public.
I think the Amphitheater should be torn down. Spending 2.5 million to
repair the theater is waste of taxpayer money and could be better utilized
for other programs. Even, if repaired it does seem to fit in the park
surroundings and would still be an eye sore.
The city should not in the entertainment business. Private business
and religious organizations offer a wide variety of concerts and theatrical
productions. The city should not compete with these private groups.
Also special concerts can be held on the lawn south of the candy factory.
There are also concerts held at Market Square which is within walking
distance of the Worlds Fair Park.
Please tear the Amphitheater down and get rid of one of the Cities many
Candy Factory. I've purchased things from the Chocolate store in the
past and enjoyed seeing the art galleries and the other floors. I plan
to visit the art galleries again to buy items. I'm also interested in
taking art classes.
To utilize the facility more, consider having vending machines or possibly
some type as casual restaurant on the top floor. Open up the area and
put in larger windows on the side overlooking the park/garden area.
Create a roof top garden / vista area with an access from the top floor.
Consider linking the Museum of Art and the Candy Factory to the World's
Fair Park area by building a walkway, elevator/stair structure over
the rail road tracks.
Victorian Houses. This was the first time I've visited any of the Victorian
houses. If the Victorian houses don't have wheel chair access, they
should be modified. It appears the homes need some exterior work and
paint. A wheel chair access is also needed from the street (World's
Fair Park Drive) to the homes. This could be a zig-zag concrete ramp
which is nicely landscaped. It could be located near the existing stairs.
The vacant house could be renovated and used to sell souvenir items
such as clothing, post cards, stationary, note cards, pictures depicting
city points of interest. It could sell plants during the Dogwood Festival.
It could also carry books about Tennessee and Knoxville's history, prominent
families, and historical buildings. This may already be available at
the McClung Museum; I haven't visited it yet. I was disappointed in
the Museum of Art and it's gift shop when I visited some months ago.
Consider moving the Visitors Center located in the Candy Factory to
the empty home. Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center. Consider
replacing the glass windows with doors on the front of the lower level
facing the park area. This would allow for people to move freely from
the building to the park and allow venues to utilize both areas.
Tennessee Amphitheatre. This structure should be repaired and be brought
up to today's standards for lighting and sound or demolished and replaced
with something similar. I would prefer to see it restored and upgraded.
Personally, I don't think the "open air" quality of the structure is
an issue as someone said during the Tuesday tour. Most people will dress
appropriately for a function in such a venue. If the work included adding
a speaker/sound system so people located throughout the park could hear
music, crowds could be larger. Adding well placed portable, large screens
would give people sitting distant from the stage a visual show. If this
could be connected with activities occurring at Market Square, such
as the Shakespeare event more people could be accommodated. In other
words, people could hear and see what is occurring at a location distant
from them. Sunsphere. This structure should be renovated and reopened.
This would be a nice venue for a restaurant. It would be nice to have
one or both of the observation floors remain for observation. The establishment
could be as casual as a Starbucks, Schlotzsky's, or Atlanta Bread Company.
It could be more upscale such as Ruby Tuesday, Aubrey's, or Silver Spoon.
It might be nice to have tables and seating "pits" on the observation
floors to allow for people to have desserts / snacks and coffee there.
Park. The grassy area behind the amphitheatre should be landscaped into
a garden setting with trees, flowers, and another water feature. Bird
feeders for song birds and hummingbirds should be maintained throughout
the park area. Squirrel feeders would be nice too.
Parking. Consider constructing low cost / no cost additional multi-level
parking near the World's Fair Park, perhaps under the above ground roads
towards Blackstock and Tulip Ave. Create a walkway from the parking
facility to the Park and have it run along or near the creek.
Clubs and Organization. The city should keep a list (data base) of clubs
and organizations in order to ask them to participate in scheduled events.
For example I'm an officer for a square dance club. There are many square
dance clubs in the area and we all enjoy doing exhibitions. Having events
that spotlight local organizations helps citizens to learn about what's
available and it lets people share their interests and talents. As a
newcomer to Knoxville, there doesn't seem to be a way of finding out
about local clubs and organizations easily. The Dallas newspaper prints
a "Things to Do" section in their Friday paper in a section similar
to the New-Sentinel's "Preview." This listed anything that was happening
that weekend, plus it allowed organizations to be listed on an ongoing
basis. Any and every kind of theater, arts, sport, hobby, club or organization
was listed. This helped new people relocating to Dallas and visitors
locate organizations of interest.
Railroad tracks. If the railroad tracks running through the World's
Fair Park area are no longer used, the tracks should be removed. If
the tracks are active, how often are they used? Could the trains be
rerouted. Would it be possible to share the line and use it to bring
people in from outlying parking areas.
Knoxville needs to be thinking about a light rail system to reduce car
traffic and pollution.
Greenway. Long term, the city should find a way to link the World's
Fair Park green area to Volunteer Landing.
Special Events. During the Dogwood Festival and possible monthly (1st
Sat) from Mar-Nov and/or when the convention center is used, create
a special Trolley route to Historical Homes. Homes to be included: Armstrong-Lockett
House (Crescent Bend), Bleak House, Mabry-Hazen House, Marble Springs,
& Ramsey House Plantation. Include a discount coupon in the Lifestyle
Book to promote the tour.
I have one question that I would like to receive some clarification
on. There was a company that wanted to add fiber optics to the Sunsphere
about 1-2 years ago why did the city decline there offer also if it
is a land mark to our city why is it so dark at night should it not
be lit up. That is are land mark have more pride for it!!!!!!
The present operation of the Candy Factory seems to be providing a valuable
public service. Teaching health to over 80% of Knox County school students
and several adjacent counties is invaluable. The educational impact
that is served in this facility would be sacrificed and/or reduced in
scope if the classes had to find another location. Other floors serve
the cultural and art world as well as providing a shopping venue for
the convention center guests. In addition, the top floor community meeting
room is free for any non-profit or minority group.
Taking this facility away from the school kids, the non-profits and
the minority groups would be counterproductive. These are very strong
reasons for the city to continue managing the building in the same way
it has for the last 20 years. The Candy Factory should not be under
the management of a for-profit organization.
These houses have historic value and as such were incorporated into
The 1982 World’s Fair. Today all but one continues to play an important
role in the daily lives of locals and are an added attraction to visitors
to our city. Additionally, they provide a buffer between the commercial
and residential areas of Fort Sanders. The houses should be better
maintained and if the cost cannot be included in the present city budget,
let the occupants do their own capital fund campaign to fix up the spaces.
In return the rent could be lowered to compensate them for their work
and the city could guarantee a longer contract or even give the buildings
to those who will agree to maintain them.
KNOXVILLE CONVENTION AND EXHIBITION CENTER
SMG at present has 3 ½ years remaining in a 5-year operation contract.
When the present contract expires the city should consider another use
for the old convention center. One such use would be to allow the Holiday
Inn to build a two-story parking garage in the facility to serve the
new convention center. The parking garage wouldn’t have to take up all
of the space and could split the high-bay area in half with all of the
upper half used for parking and up to half of the lower level used for
small local events. The low bay area which is under the Holiday Inn
should be returned to the Holiday Inn and allow them to use it for hospitality
rooms for convention guests and/or hotel events.
The present estimate to "fix" the steel arch supports should be re-checked
with the original 1982 engineers or at least consult with Birdair who
still builds these structures and was involved in the original project.
(Birdair can be contacted at 1-800-622-2246.) Birdair also might be
able to assume the liability necessary to clean up and patch the structural
beams without replacing them in their entirety. It would seem logical
that the original builders could put their engineering stamp on a "fix"
of the present beam assembly at a much lower cost than a firm that did
not engineer the structure. The Tennessee Amphitheater is a historic
structure and one of only a few such structures in the world. The Myer
Music Bowl of Melbourne Australia is another tension fabric structure
which is recognized world-wide. A Melbourne architect stated , "It is
a tribute to all those involved in the original project, that the building
has stood the test of time and was able to be refurbished to continue
as one of the icons of Melbourne". It is ludicrous to believe Victor
Ashe actually gave the order to tear down The Amphitheater without informing
anyone on City Council. It is also ludicrous to believe a 22-year-old
tension steel building cannot be repaired in a logical manner just as
the 100 year-old Gay Street Bridge was.
During the years The Amphitheater was managed by the city, it served
many valuable public uses. The existing seating was sufficient for
these small outdoor concerts, graduation exercises, church services,
and various other private and public functions. The suggestion to enclose
the theater was made by promoters who want to profit from a few large
concerts each year. There are 52 weekends in the year so what would
the now higher cost Amphitheater do the remaining weekends after these
promoted concerts are finished? To change the building and enclose it
would destroy the historic value and serve no economical purpose.
The lower level, if refurbished, could also serve as a World’s Fair
exhibit area and museum for The Sunsphere.
Finally, the Amphitheater was a gift to the City of Knoxville by the
State of Tennessee. To not use the space in the intended manner would
be a dishonor to the State of Tennessee and it would be breaking the
trust between the city and the state.
The Sunsphere has a magical draw to the public. To not understand that
this icon is recognized worldwide would be a blunder of epic proportions
on the part of the city. Because of this proven visitor draw, The Sunsphere
should be used exclusively as a tourist destination attraction.
Since 1983 a steady stream of restaurant operators have tried to formulate
a workable plan to use The Sunsphere as a dining venue. The most recent
attempt was by SMG who presently operates our new convention center.
Some logistics obstacles include moving food between floors, extra personnel
required to serve on multi-levels, removal of garbage, and the major
problem of guest parking.
In addition, the tenant would be responsible for management of the three
elevators. This, in and of itself, is a daunting task: dealing with
up to 100,000 visitors a year (300 or more a day) who only want to go
up to the 4th floor Observation Deck. The restaurant operator would
have to bear the added payroll cost of three full-time elevator operators.
If so many restaurant operators have tried for so long (22 years), doesn’t
it make sense to forget the restaurant option and go on to what does
work and just use The Sunsphere as a destination attraction.
What would it take to reopen ONLY The Sunsphere Observation Deck? Not
$2,000,000; not even the $1,000,000 which the mayor has included in
his new budget to "fix" The Sunsphere. The same engineering firm that
designed The Sunsphere back in 1981, that did the $2,000,000 estimate
in 2003 for PBA, also estimated a 4th floor quick fix estimate for me
in 2004. Community Tectonics estimated that the Observation Deck can
be operating for as little as $102,000 and the repairs could be made
in less than a month allowing The Sunsphere to reopen in time for this
I produced a 11-page report on the Sunsphere and the dynamic role and economic
impact it has had on downtown Knoxville. My report was sharerd with
the Knoxville Touirism and Sports Corp on March 23th and was planned
to be sent to the Mayor. When I advised the Mayor of this information he
e-mailed me on Feburary 12 asking me to sent it to Bill Lyons. In response
to my e-mail May 2th on the Budget report, the Mayor sent me a second e-mail
on May 4 advising me to send him and Bill Lyons a copy. My report
has sizable documentation that will require hundreds of copies. This
is the reason I asked for an audiance with the Mayor.
I really enjoyed spending time in and around the World's Fair Park complex.
I specifically liked watching concerts and shows, as well as sitting
and fellowshipping with friends at the 11th Street Expresso house.
The artist markets and other facilities are an important feature of
the park, while I think some of the space could be put to better use.
Low attendance any time I have been inside the Candy Factory leads me
to think that a higher and better use might be made of the whole space.
I do advocate preserving the Candy Factory, especially the gallery and
Chocolate store. Some of the Victorian houses space might be better
used to bring people in, but I would keep the coffeehouse in place!
Should the Victorian houses and the Candy Factory be redeveloped as
commercial ventures, or should they remain arts-related to continue
the World's Fair Park's status as our only arts district?
Why can't the city find a way to make it both? A commercially successful
arts district. I works in other cities. Maybe a mix of arts and non-arts
Do you want a restaurant in the Sunsphere?
It would be OK. Not a national chain
How much would you be willing to pay to ride the elevator to the observation
couple bucks, but maybe it could be refunded if I eat in the restaurant
or buy in the gift shop while I'm up there.
What would you want to do once you got up there? Eat? Drink? Shop? Learn?
yes to all
In addition to being one of our city's major tourist attractions, the
World's Fair Park is downtown's back yard, a great place to play.
How do you want visitors to experience it?
as an exicitng starting place to explore our city - not a place to start
and stay and then miss the rest of Ktown
How do we want to use it?
concerts, festivals, gatherings great and small are great.
The World's Fair was a major event in the history of Knoxville. Certainly
some of what little is left of it should be preserved as a symbol of
this honorable distinction.
Sunsphere: This is the icon and needs to remain. Please put it to a
fitting use and have it accessible to the public/tourist/visitor.
Tennessee Amphitheater: I enjoyed many events under this tent. It has
a wonderful atmosphere in the park and with the waterscape below. I
do not know what it would take to put it back into operations, but if
it could, it is a great park facility.
Victorian Houses: These form a wonderful historic complex of Victorian
houses, representing what is now largely lost in the greater Fort Sanders
neighborhood. If it is an inconvenient city property to operate, perhaps
these houses should be sold with deed covenants to protect their historic
appearances. This would make for a very desirable residential neighborhood
- with the adjacent parks and Art Museum.
Candy Factory: This historic factory building served a useful public
purpose. If it is an inconvenient city property to operate, perhaps
it should be sold with deed covenants to protect its historic appearance.
Find a developer to establish commercial or condominium units - this
Knoxville Convention & Exhibition Center: Do not know enough about this
facility. Does it support itself? Would it serve as a supplement to
the new Convention Center? Or would it be best disposed of to the hotel
Above all the park needs to be appreciated and utilized to the fullest.
After living, working and organizing in Manhattan, and then coming to
live and love living in Knoxville eight years ago, I have come to believe
and almost feel driven to create, a really accessible Children's Museum
for all of not only Knoxville's children, but its children in the counties
Knoxville would benefit greatly both economically, sociologically and
politically, from a thriving, vibrant, community-driven, downtown. Sure
the city needs to make money and no doubt, we must have business driven
economic ventures, capitol improvement and room for eminent domain when
it comes to redevelopment, but we have a saying in New York, "if it
ain't broke, don't fix it." This holds true especially for the World's
Fair Park, Fort Kidd, the Victorian Houses and the Candy Factory/KMA.
That site, if carefully and thoughtfully planned with an eye to the
future, and embracing true multi-cultural driven concepts and practices,
would potentially draw to downtown, the vibrant colors of people it
so desperatly needs there.
Once upon a time, the Laurel Theatre and others hosted an International
Festival on the grounds of the Worlds' Fair Park. The city needs to
bring this back! Then one could truly see Knoxville's rich cultural
heritage. Unfortunatly, to the pedestrian on the street, Knoxville's
downtown is home only to a homogenous, white, southern culture, and
a business one at that, save the occassional writer type wandering in
and out of the 11th street expresso house, which by the way is one of
the best and truly home-based business down there. I also have danced
for many years in the once beautiful dance studio on the 7th floor of
the the Candy Factory. Bringing up NYC again, letting go of a perfectly
good dance space where the symphony, the ballet, the opera and post
modern dance companies practice, is well, just simple, and not very
forward-thinking..PUT in a dance floor!
The Victorian homes work, don't fix them. Of course, you do have to
fix the lights, taxes must be paid, utilities kept on, insurance, etc...
I understand the complexities of economic development. But if the city,
in its infinite creative capacities, given to it by the greatness of
minds )read men and women of truely inspired intuition and depth> who
will create such an action plan, then keeping those buildings arts related
seems like a feat, already done--the plans just need to be drawn up.
So, here is my modest proposal: Put the Children's Muesum right across
the street from the KMA: kind of like mother, son, keep the 11th street
expresso house and make the back yard accessible to small concert venues,
read: Revenue for the city. Keep the Candy Factory mixed use with art
galleries and high-priced shopping boutiques, read let some shop keepers
pay rent; keep the KMA affiliate health gallery in there. Put a high-end
sprung wood floor for god's sake, into the 7th floor dance studio and
put yourself on the map as a city who supports the arts! Get HGTV to
sponsor it. As a matter of fact, get some editing facilities of some
key TV studios in there--editing facitlities like downtown areas...keep
Tennessee Stage and any others who are not going over to the arts emporium,
in the Candy Factory and rent out the rest of the spaces to unique small
businesses who want a downtown location--find a common theme--
The final key issues to getting, bringing and keeping a diverse and
I say diverse population to downtown, is making it fun and accesible
to those people in the city who are not european american. For instance,
nearly 300 people attended a "Rivers of Babylon" Arabic festival at
the Sacred Heart church last year..get in touch with them; have some
arabic music night downtown, have some Israeli musicians do an evening
of music, host an indian event-- call up the Hindu community center
out west and offer to co-host Charanjit Lal who will be here in Mid-May,
for a concert downtown; call up the Sikh community--3HO of Knoxville--
and do a meditation for peace and world religions; reach out to the
African American community by offering free bus passes to get there--most
black families living in urban knoxville don't drive and won't come
out unless is something that relates to their culture--guess how many
folks came out for the "Wailers" at sundown two weeks ago? Reach out
to the indegent populations who are on public assistance, just out of
jail, getting their lives together, and in recovery. They are citizens
in need of culture and family time, too. And it must be cheap! But they've
got cash just like everyone else. Remember knoxville is host to over
five prominant social service agencies which serve thousands of indegent
people in AoD recovery.
Lastly, look into your own soul and the colloborative soul of Knoxville.
What is there? Ask yourself, how do we serve our neighbors and communities
nicely? How do we serve each other? Our children? How do we keep each
other up? How do we be real in these terrible times of war and vast
economic depressions in the third and fourth worlds? How do we keep
sight of the larger picture, keep ourselves beautiful, keep Knoxville
beautiful and keep each other in the sight of holiness? You know the
answer; it's already there. And time and space but a concept to fold
life into. Be real; put some kind of deep forsight forward, instead
of shallow greed and superficial thinking. In other words, Mayor(s),
do your home-house work and then the work, will get done.
Hotels, hotels, hotels. These alone are not prosperous, but it is where
all the patrons need to stay who come to Knoxville for all the convention
center oriented events. Next, or in additon to, tear down that candy
factory. I am in the arts and love that old building beyond words but
it is a hazard and is going to cause some major disaster someday. Mark
my word, I have rehearsed quite a bit in there and it hasn't looked
good for many years.
The Victorian homes: as I can tell, only about half of them are in operation
right now. The others sit abandoned and uncared for. I really don't
want this to be what visitors see when the tour our art community. Get
them all working perhaps in conjunction with one another. Let them all
be conjoined as working galleries and art related retail shops similiar
to the Factory in Franklin.
The KMA is a great facility but is, at present, being choked to death
by the perpetual weeds of the Victorian Homes and Candy Factory.
I like the idea of a movie theatre, a new amphitheater (please ask theatre
people their opinions of what Knoxville needs before building), a childrens
museum like the old one on the fairgrounds on Magnolia, a restaurant
(perhaps a Hard Rock Cafe' or something of that gimmick) inside the
Sunsphere, maybe a water park.
I guess I am saying: make this a village like location for people who
are visiting so that they can say that there stay was even as good as
the reason they came to Knoxville.
What knoxville needs is an affordable performance space for theatre
and other art activities. The Tennessee Amphitheatre at one time was
used for that purpose. Shakespeare in the Park_ Tennessee Stage Company,
Knox Opera Company _ Sound of Music, Theatre Knoxville - Spoon River
Anthology, Knox Symphony_Fourth of July Concert, Knox Recreation Band
Concerts. And I'm sure there are countless other examples. The art community
still needs that space for performance and despite its drawbacks the
amphitheatre's price was right. Give Knoxville a place to show off our
I am a concerned citizen and live in Fourth and Gill. I just wanted
to share some thoughts with regard to the Sunsphere, Candy Factory and
Victorian Houses at World's Fair Park. I would like to see them renovated/updated
(not demolished) to house small retail businesses that would suit the
historic area and appeal to in-town guests using the Convention center
and staying at downtown hotels and residents of the downtown area and
surrounding residential communities. It seems to me that with the new
convention center (and it's parking garage) and all the recent activity
on Market Square, Gay Street, The Old City and surrounding downtown
communities, World's Fair park is a much more viable location for a
small business than it was just a couple short years ago.
The Sunsphere could have a lookout level. Perhaps a restaurant/bar?
Retail space? Conference room (to be let out by the convention center?)
The Candy Factory, in addition to its current residents (arts/crafts,
etc.) could hold office/retail space, perhaps a deli (or some type of
place for in-town guests/local patrons to get a bite to eat).
I think the coffee shop in the one Victorian is an ideal business for
that type of space.
I would like to see the site remain or become an Arts and Cultural district.
The Candy Factory - tourist info, rehearsal and performance space for
theatre and dance, a "before and after the theatre" coffee shop.
The Sunsphere - a restaurant
The amphitheater - a theater! I've enjoyed concerts there and Shakespeare.
I would like to do that again. This structure would be better utilized
if it could be renovated into an all-weather theatre.
Knoxville NEEDS an affordable public performance arts space. There are
several "homeless" theatre companies that could share a building each
producing 1 or 2 shows a year in it. Shared scene shop and storage on
site would be grand, as well.
Perhaps the Amphitheater should remain an outdoor venue and the old
convention center house an indoor 250-300 seat venue
Victorian houses - shops for local artists and crafts people - a la
In 1982 I was the first trumpeter with the Sing Tennessee-Opryland Musical
at the Ampitheater. I enjoyed going up to the restaurant in the Sunsphere.
I hope it could be reopened as a restaurant or nightclub. Possibly it
could be used as a catering house for private parties as Cipriani has
been using the Rainbow Room(top of the GE Building/Rockerfeller Center)
here in New York City.
If you don't know, the Terrace on the Park, from the 1964 World's Fair
here in Queens ,NY, has been used as a catering house and has been successful,
as well as being a tourist attraction.
My suggestion is to have a observation deck like the Sears Tower in
Chicago. You could have a museum and use the top as a place to look
out all over Knoxville with the back wall having scenes depicting current
and past events of Knoxville. You could use some of the space for a
gift shop with Knoxville souveniers and maybe candy from the candy factory.
Also have a restaurant for visitors to be able to eat in. The possibilities
are endless. But we are always looking for ways to market our city and
why not let the main attraction at the World's Fair be our symbol and
help market some of our other fine attractions to visitors.
I manage the TVA Historic Collection. To date, we have over 35,000 artifacts
with an estimated appraised value of $10 million. A large percentage
of the collection includes "Smithsonian-quality" items that represent
the history and accomplishments of TVA. Many of these items have been
restored to their original condition - by a former Smithsonian restoration
Due to budget cuts, TVA has decided to discontinue programmatic funding.
The collection will be packed up and centralized, until further notice.
Some items may go on display at the TVA offices in Knoxville and Chattanooga.
Many items are currently on display in Muscle Shoals. We are now looking
for an appropriate venue to display these one-of-a-kind pieces. I have
attached a few images which represent the high-level quality of our
collection. People have referred to this collection as "Knoxville's
best kept secret." Located on the concourse level of the TVA West Tower,
very few people have seen our facility. For the past five years, the
program has focused most of its efforts on outreach, including educational
programming, exhibits, tours, research, and consultation.
It seems to me that the Sunsphere would be an excellent venue for these
items. In addition to being very historic, with direct ties to the Tennessee
Valley, our pieces are also very aesthetic and sculptural. The Sunsphere
would allow the City to showcase these unique items. I think this "option"
has the potential of being permanent, but, it also could be a temporary
exhibit. In fact, a TVA exhibit in the Sunsphere would greatly complement
any programming regarding the 60th commemoration of the Manhattan Project.
The Sunsphere would be an excellent "hub" or educational venue that
allows visitors to view this important part of our regional history
- and how it connected with Oak Ridge. In addition to exhibits, we also
have ready-made educational programs, including VandeGraf generators
and, a new, 300,000 volt Tesla Coil. This machine creates man-made lightning.
Also, we have access to over one million photographs, which, if scanned,
could be made available to the general public. We have also converted
over 500 movies to both vhs and dv format. Consequently, if a "temporary"
exhibit is more appealing than a "permanent" display, I'd suggest that
the Sunspshere, or at least one level, become a venue for changing exhibits!
It could be a "City Gallery" that brings in any number of exhibits -
from UT, Oak Ridge, area museums, or nation-wide traveling exhibits.
This would add an ever-changing excitement to the Sunsphere, bringing
people back time and again.
When I look at the Sunshpere, it looks like a golf ball sitting on top
of a tee. Now the city of Knoxville is faced with a problem on what
to do with it. Why not put a positive spin on it? We have a icon that
is not replicated anywhere else in the world, or least to my knowledge.
Why not make it represent Golf in some positive way, like the Knoxville,
TN Hall of fame for either professional or amateur golf,or both if the
name has not been already taken.
I am not a golf player, but I do like to watch professional golfing
tournaments on t.v.
By having a national icon representing an active sport, people would
come to see a museum of a sport like golf. There are other golfing museums
in the U.S., and this may be a way to compete for people that like to
see something relating to Golf. Perhaps a special annual golfing tournament
for Knoxville could be devised.
The sun sphere should either be left to stand as it is or bulldozed
to the ground. Spending any money on it is a waste of taxpayer money.
The adage, "you cannot make a silk purse out of a pig's ear" is applicable.
I am glad the mayor wants to improve the Worlds Fair Park by restoring
the Sunsphere. I don't mind some of our tax increase going to pay for
that (as well as downtown improvements.) I always enjoyed concerts at
the Tennessee Amphitheater. I hope it can also be restored to is original
condition and used again, along with the Sunsphere.
I am currently a business student at the University of Tennessee. On
the final day of class, our school newspaper, The Daily Beacon, ran
an article discussing the Sunsphere and its potential. As a resident
of the Fort Sanders Neighborhood, I frequent the World's Fair Park often...it
is quite beautiful. I cannot help but wish, however, that the Sunsphere
were open to the public with perhaps a coffeeshop/bakery in the dome.
It would be a wonderful place to study and socialize. Plus, were it
large enough, it could be utilized for meetings. The Cultural Attractions
Committee with UT, which I chair, is constantly looking for different
and interesting places for meeting locations; the Sunsphere would be
an excellent option.
Whatever the city chooses to do with Knoxville's most renowned landmark,
I certainly hope that the public will have easy access. The downtown
area has really developed beautifully in the past few years of my residency
here; the Sunsphere's eventual re-opening would only further increase
the Knoxville appeal.
Candy Factory - Please continue the present uses of the Candy Factory.
It is a great facility for residents to explore the arts. It is also
a natural fit for the area since the KMA is located next door. It is
also a great facility for community activities, such as meetings, etc.
The building does need to be repaired and our tax dollars should be
invested in the building because it is such a great asset. PLEASE do
not give this property away for other uses such as large scale retail
or housing development.
Tennessee Amphitheater - This structure should be removed and replaced
with a modern "shell" structure for entertainment or just left for open
Sunsphere - This facility should be opened as soon as possible as a
tourist attraction and restuarant.
Victorian Houses - I think the buildings need a facelift, but I think
the uses are appropriate. I do think that one or more houses could be
renovated and showcased as a period house and open for public tours.
Connvention Center - This is a wonderful facility but apparently needs
to be used more often by convention groups. No particular comment here
other than that the convention advertising should be increased to attract
I would like to suggest the renovation of the Sunsphere, Victorians,
and Candy Factory. The amphitheater should be demolished and converted
into more green space. That is a nice space between the water and fountains.
I think the base of the sunsphere should be the home of a knoville tourist
information site. I would try to get a business to share the cost of
the renovations (maybe with a cheap rent in return, but don't get suckered
into a horrible deal!). If there are no takers on the sunsphere, I think
it should get taken down too. Sorry , but it looks like leftover junk
from the world's fair, and if it is just going to sit there and rot,
then take it down! I think it is great that the victorians are there
are used by artists. Even the condemned one should get fixed up. Could
Knox Heritage help with the renovations? Would you be able to get volunteers
to help with the renovations? I think there would be people willing
to give there time if they knew it was going to help the city. They
are too precious of a resource to tear down. Same with the Candy factory.
It is a unique space that enhances the appeal of the city. Is there
a way to issue a bond to help pay for it? It is important to keep the
rents reasonable for those spaces so that it will attract more artists.
Our most distinctive landmark is inaccessible, unused, and falling into
ruin. Since she was first able to talk, my 6 year old daughter has always
noticed the "Big Gold Ball" in the sky, and has asked if she could go
up in the Big Gold Ball. It should renovated and opened tothe public.
If not, it should come down so that it doesn't stand as an everyday
symbol of the vision we once had, but chose not to perpetuate.
I would like to comment on the future use and preservation of the Susphere.
I like the structure and enjoyed going up inside several years ago and
more recently to see officials at the PBA. I agree it is a symbol of
our City (like it or not) and would suggest it be combined with a nice
restaurant, cocktail bar and public viewing deck, even if the City has
to structure a very favorable lease to make that possible. I would also
like to see the outside structure lit up at night so as to reflect seasonal
events and colors. This would be similar to the way the Empire State
Building is lighted by NYC. Examples would be red & green during Christmas,
blue and white during Hanukkah, pink and white or green during the Dogwood
Festival, orange during the fall or at least UT home games, with a Jack-O-Lantern
face on Halloween, yellow on Easter, red, white & blue during the 4th
of July, etc. I recall someone actually suggested this a couple of years
ago (Bandit lites??) and said they were going to launch an effort to
raise the funding, but I have not heard or read anything else. This
would also be a natural fit with the Christmas trees over the roof tops
all downtown. The main point, I think, is that rather than hide or not
build up the Sunsphere, I believe we should embrace it as a local icon
and enhance its community appeal by this highlighting effort.
I think the amphitheatre needs to remain. I grew up going there for
a lot of outdoor concerts and the like and it is a good asset to the
community. I would put some money into it to renovate it. The Sunsphere
needs to be used for a small public office, something people can go
to for work and community service. I realize that there is not much
square footage, but surely there is a small department that can go up
lastly, a large scale rendering posted at the corner of Lower Drive
and Cumberland (below the Hill) showed the convention center, amphitheatre
and sunsphere in the context of the completed project with a large outdoor
lawn to be used for larger outdoor concerts. This is a good plan. Build
I would be in favor of a modest tax increase to make and maintain public
places for citizens to use. In the long run, such things will attract
busnesses and residents and make the city more money.
The World's Fair park amphitheatre would be an excellent venue for specialized
entertainment that would be of interest to a smaller segment of the
population, perhaps along the lines of the amphitheatre as it is managed
at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state (http://www.ciweb.org/).
With our warm weather climate, many small events, ranging from comedians,
to lecturers, to musicians and dancers could be scheduled throughout
most of the year and help turn downtown into a cultural mecca and a
leading southern city.
I am the Executive Director of the National Electrical Contractors Association,
East Tennessee Chapter. I, along with several other representatives
of the electrical industry in Knoxville have prepared a proposal to
light the Sunsphere. It would be lighted with fiber optic lighting
and would be able to change colors for different occasions such as:
orange for UT sporting events, green for Christmas, etc.
I would like to submit for your consideration that the Sunsphere become
the new location for a children's discovery center. The Sunsphere is
a great central location that can accommodate mutiple purposes within
one structure. This past spring break in March my family and I visited
children discoverycenters in Memphis and Nashville. Both cities have
in the last 2-3 years have opened new centers. The Sunsphere would make
an ideal and unique center that would reflect Knoxville's desire to
encompass the old and look to the future. Thank you for consideration.
One suggestion I have for giving the Sunsphere its due is to illuminate
it again at night...from the inside...so that interstate travelers will
sit up and take notice of our unique icon.
Why does the city have a double standard for the community and its own
operation? We the community can be fined and etc for letting buildings
get run done or not maintained, yet the city does this with a lot of
their responsibilities. These buildings on the World Fair site are a
The Sunsphere should be top priority, cleaned, fixed, maintained and
brought back to original condition. Than this tower should be the offices
for the city and or county mayor. High profile people need high profile
locations and what better place to put hose people than in the signature
location of Knoxville/Knox County. A side benefit would be it would
free up space in the city/county building for offices that - NEED -
to be there and the mayors offices are not one of them.
The Tennessee Amphitheater is next in line to be reclaimed from the
death bed. Then the city/county can sponsor events from here (schools
concerts, plays the like) with groups and other artists who can perform
here that do not need a large stage arena.
After that attack the "Candy Factory" building. Why waste the potential
here on this good sized building. Relocate city/county offices that
need a more community based structure into this location. this again
would free up more space in the present city/county building. Potential
tenants could come from the "Recreation Department, MPC, Library, among
Parking for these facilities would be accessible using the present spaces
for the convention center. Bus service would be door side and a side
benefit is the easy access for U-T faculty and students.
Now for the big question - how do we pay for it? Just like any other
business, buckle down and find a way. It can only be done if you try
and take a positive attitude. The end result will more than make up
for the effort.
I feel it would be very beneficial to the city to save the park and
it's buildings. The Sunsphere observation deck should be open again
to the public free of charge. The city should seek sponsors for doing
this. If a restaurant goes into business in the Sunsphere, it needs
to be a family type restaurant. I feel this would draw visitors to the
The Tennessee Amphitheater needs to be repaired and used again. All
types of activities and shows used the theater for the public enjoyment.
This could happen again.
I feel that the city needs to seek sponsors or federal money to help
preserve this part of Knoxville. Many activities are occurring on the
newly developed World's Fair Park. The water feature has drawn a lot
of people for personal enjoyment. Adults and kids enjoy playing in the
water. It is a wonderful place for walkers.
The city needs to address the issue of parking. Free parking needs to
be available for anyone wanting to use the area. I feel the main reason
downtown has lost so many visitors is due to the high parking fees and
lack of available spaces. My husband and I visited a town that had free
public parking. It gave us a chance to park and walk around the town
without incurring a fee to do this. Parking problems has killed downtown
Knoxville more than any issue. For most people it is not always the
money for the parking fee, but the issue of having to pay to park and
buy event tickets as well. This presents a hardship on people with limited
incomes that want to attend events. Sometimes the parking fee is almost
as much as the tickets for the event they would be attending. Families
with children or on fixed income can't afford to do this. Knoxville
needs to become more family oriented.
Knoxville has a lot going for it and we need to enhance this. The World's
Fair Park area could be the place to do this with the Knoxville Convention
Center as a draw for tourist. If Chattanooga can do it, Knoxville can.
We just need to focus more on what we already have to offer instead
of going in debt to add more attractions that the tax payers end up
I am writing this e-mail to share with you a story about my 5 year old
daughter. She is at the age in which I was during the 1982 World's Fair,
which I vividly remember riding the elevator up to the observation deck
of the Sunsphere. A few weeks ago, during our midmorning ride to her
preschool, this is a conversation that we shared: She with bright and
curious eyes, looked at me and said," Mommy, can I go in the Sunsphere?"
I told her that I wasn't sure yet, because of the recent construction
to the park. She then looked at me very matter of factly and said "Well
Mommy, we can go to Sunsphere dot com and see if I can go there, because
everything has a dot com." All of this coming from a 5 year old child,
who just want to do something she has only heard stories about and admired
from a distance. Last week, on the yet another ride to preschool. She
happily told me that she had seen the Sunsphere on the news, and that
there was only 3 people in there and 3 desks. Stating the fact, that
there was 3 desks and 3 people, because you can't have a desk without
a person or a person without a desk. I just really hope that there can
be some things done to the Sunsphere, so that the children of the generation
who experienced the World's Fair, can also experience it.
I am not sure of the amount of space in the sunsphere, but children
really seem drawn to it and it would be nice to see a children's discovery
museum go in there.
I sincerely hope that money can be found to rehabilitate the Tennessee
Amphitheatre. It is a unique structure, a wonderful legacy from the
Fair, and I have so many happy memories of events I have attended there.
In particular, I miss being able to go to Shakespeare in the Park; I
have never enjoyed Shakespeare more than I did at the Amphitheatre,
not even at the Folger in D.C.
The Sunsphere must have an observation deck. I loved what used to be
up there, with pictures of what you used to be able to see out each
window during the Fair. That could be improved upon, along with pictures
showing you what local landmarks you are seeing out each window. A find-dining
sort of restaurant up there would be fabulous too. It's nice for the
people who have offices up there, and I'm glad the facility is getting
put to some use, but it hardly seems fair that all of Knoxville cannot
access and enjoy our local icon.
My family has enjoyed the Candy Factory; we have participated in art
lessons and attended several art shows there. I know it needs refurbishment,
but using it for the arts seems a nice fit, with the KMA right next
Finally, I hope no one would seriously consider knocking down the Victorian
Houses! It was a blessing that they were saved from the Fair itself;
it would be a crime to lose any more of the architecture of Fort Sanders.
Perhaps one of them could be made into a small museum of Knoxville's
architectural history, Fort Sanders' in particular, with pictures of
vanished homes and what ridiculous things we have replaced them with.
Perhaps this would plant some seeds in the heads of future preservationists.
I think some retail--local crafts, perhaps--would be a nice fit there
too, as would a cafe that could serve kids and parents playing in the
I would like to see the Victorian houses and candy factory maintained
and perhaps someday, an expansion of the art museum.
I don't think we should allocate resources to renovating the Sunsphere.
I think one part of the resurgence that is going on downtown is that
people are rediscovering that they are drawn to the street level, whether
its an outdoor event, eating on the sidewalk in front of Tomato Head,
etc. I also question whether people would be drawn to the Sunsphere
as an observation area/deck. Finally, I question how much value the
Sunsphere has as a trademark for Knoxville. I work as in-house counsel
for a corporation in town and work on trademark issues from time to
time. There is an inexact science to placing a dollar value on trademarks
and I tend to think the value of the Sunsphere as a mark for the city
is not that great. Don't get me wrong, I also think we would get a lot
of bad press if we ever tore it down. There would have to be a whole
lot of great things going on in town for that not to be perceived as
It would be nice to save the Amphitheater, although Knoxville already
has a wealth of venues, and, as the recent financial troubles at the
Bijou demonstrate, may be having trouble supporting all of them.
Finally, I would like to see more concerts in the park. The benefit
for the Smoky Mountains a few years ago was a great event and seemed
to tie Knoxville to the mountains which is an association I think should
The park is wonderful. I brought my kids down for Earth Day and they
had a blast. Although its not related to the World Fair park, I think
the City should be reluctant to offer incentives to bring office workers
downtown unless it is needed to make a renovation project work (e.g
the Miller's Building). I work for a large employer downtown and, by
and large, most folks drive in, stay in the building all day, bring
their lunch, and then drive home at 5:00. You could replace them 5 to
1 with residents and you would have a bigger impact on downtown.
Convert all or part of the Sunsphere into "The Museum of Knoxville",
which would consist of displays/exhibitions of all that is unique about
Knoxville and its history, housed in the uniquely Knoxvillian Sunsphere.
I'm thinking of the many stories I've read in Jack Neely's "Secret History"
columns/books, and the old Knoxville photos with interesting quotes
about Knoxville that are hanging in Preservation Pub. All that makes
Knoxville a unique and cool city.
History tells us a lot and from what I have heard a restaurant is not
the answer to bringing the Sunsphere to life. I recommend for Phase
I that the city address the faulty elevators, the HVAC system and closing
up the cracking exterior. After that is done the observation floor should
be renovated to accommodate visitors. The cost for these renovations
will be far less than the $2.5 million. Once the observation tower is
up and running (generating revenue) then start Phase II to determine
other uses for the structure.
The 11th Street Victorian Houses:
The estimated $750,000 for renovations for these structures should be
done, but not with full city funding. Corporations and individuals like
Scripps Networks (HGTV), Pilot, TVA would get great exposure from making
donations to this project. HGVT could feature this project on their
cable channel for more publicity. Labor and materials could also be
donated by local organizations as well. Habitat for Humanity receives
building supply donations all the time for their Thrift shop. All of
these ideas could make this a fun and worthwhile project for the community.
The Candy Factory:
This historic structure could be used by the city for city and county
office space. Reviewing the current office space needs for both the
city and county may provide an opportunity to renovate this space and
provide additional office space.
Old Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center:
This exhibition space needs more promotion in conjunction with the new
Knoxville Convention Center. Many citizens do not realize that this
space has been made more presentable and provides a nice tie-in with
the new convention center.
Music is a powerful motivator. It fosters a sense of self-worth, promotes
positive values and creates opportunity. Music reaches through barriers.
This unique structure should be renovated after which it will create
revenue for the city. It would bring citizens into downtown Knoxville.
I recommend that a summer festival season be initiated to create a theme
for the amphitheater. Speakers could be added to the grassy area at
World's Fair Park which would allow families to bring a blanket and
picnic to concerts.
The opportunities that the city has with downtown Knoxville is only
limited by our imagination and cooperation.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to offer ideas. I would like
to offer my time and energy to the city in helping make downtown Knoxville
a more inviting place for everyone to visit.
As a resident of the Knoxville area since 1969, I have seen many signs
of growth in the community. It is gratifying to see the county and city
attempting to work together on community issues. The World's Fair Park
area was exciting when the World's Fair was here. Since then we have
been remiss and slow in developing what could become a landmark for
I use as an example the Confluence of Cultures World Exhibition Museum
in San Antonio, TX. Excellent 1969 World Exhibition and the residual
and growth in San Antonio has been phenomenal. The Sunsphere should
be made into a museum using the Energy Exposition Theme of the World's
Fair of Knoxville. It would be a good place to provide visibility for
what was considered important about energy issues then and what is important
now. This could be done with Internet and pictorial access to what was
featured at the Fair including miniature displays of best loved exhibits
and current realities regarding energy issues. The area around the Sunsphere
should be a park with sculptures and art to depict ways energy has been
harnessed and utilized through the years. Use the area to teach people
about solar energy and other sources of energy which we are going to
have to consider if we want to preserve this planet for our children
and grandchildren. The Art Museum could have annual exhibits from the
Smithsonian and other collections from around the world related to the
Energy Exposition Theme. This is a dynamic theme going back to wheels
and spears so depicted in ancient chariots and the Australian exhibit
and continuing to nano-science of today. The current science of energy
continues to be critical to the health, environment, economy, and well-being
of our community and the world. We have the benefit of some of the most
renowned scientists in the world working in Oak Ridge and visiting there
This type of exhibit and park would be related to the original use of
the site and could attract many visitors to the area if done with class
and careful thought.
There is a critical need for a first class Convention Center Hotel.
Knoxville needs to become more than a sports arena. I know we have football,
etc., but there are other very interesting aspects of life for the area
to celebrate. The energy theme grew from the TVA, Oak Ridge facilities
and concern for whether there was going to be enough energy to keep
all the infrastructures humming. What is the status of the energy issue
today? I know we are all concerned about gas prices and future availability
of petrol. What is being done about the problem? What about establishing
a "Think Tank" type symposia series to address current energy issues
on at least an annual and on-going basis and attract the best of the
best to the community?
Also, preserve the Amphitheatre for outdoor performances.
- It would be great if the Sunsphere could be turned into a tourist
attraction. Many visitors come to the downtown area and would love to
go into the SunSphere. The Seattle SpaceNeedle could be used as an example
for the project. A large gift shop was not added onto the SpaceNeedle
until decades after it was used as a tourist attraction, showing that
a lot of construction is not necessary upfront. The SpaceNeedle is also
used for private events and receptions in Seattle and a lot of outside
groups holding conventions there have at least one event in the SpaceNeedle
since it is a part of the Seattle skyline. The views from the SunSphere
alone would be worth it.
-Would I add a restaurant - probably not. However I would put in a kitchen
that could handle catering and a small sandwich and coffee bar at the
top for the tourists. Again see the SpaceNeedle as a prime example.
Although the Space Needle does have a restaurant atop it, I do not feel
that is a crucial endeavor for Knoxville.
- I heard elevators would be a problem for making the SunSphere a tourist
attraction. The SpaceNeedle operates on a small number of elevators.
- http://www.spaceneedle.com for more information and prime examples
without having to 'reinvent the wheel'.
World's Fair Park
- A great idea for World's Fair Park would be to figure a way to connect
it to the Greenway. That would encourage a lot more pedestrian traffic
and get Knoxvillians more in the habit of walking in the city area.
We have a small downtown area, but no one is willing to walk anywhere
due to the interstate cutting the city in half and a variety of other
reasons. I wish we were more of a walking city.
- If there could be continual summer Friday concerts that were free
or $5 or movies where you could come watch with your own picnic dinner,
then it would be great. However it would take someone willing to coordinate
and program the facility and other groups in town willing to use it.
Necessary items for this would include proper backstage facilities and
patron facilities (however there are some across the road). This facility
could be a great thing if folks are willing to program in it.
- An underground parking garage with 400+ spaces would make this facility
much, much better.
World's Fair Park is one of those places that can really define a place.
To me, the park is a reminder of moving to the Knoxville area as a child.
Now, as an adult, it is a symbol of the leap Knoxville made onto the
international scene and the great things that can be accomplished by
the wonderful people of East Tennessee. I see World's Fair Park as a
place of "the future" whereas Market Square is a tribute to our past.
Capitalizing on this idea, I submit my suggestions:
The things I picture in my mind for the park are probably what are already
on the drawing board: lots of lush plantings, tree lined walks, fountains....generally
a nice park to take a stroll through on my way to visit the KMA, the
Candy Factory, the Victorian houses, etc. These buildings already contain
unique and special attractions. Taking them to the next level with renovations
and ensuring that they are easily accessible from the park should further
their already effective presence.
That being said, my number one idea for the park is this (and I feel
it is crucial): get the Sunsphere open again. The Sunsphere is my most
vivid memory from age three when I visited the fair. It defines the
Knoxville skyline. I think it's a treasure! My best friend from West
Palm Beach visited me in 2001 and I took him downtown. He was impressed.....and
he thought the Sunsphere was "cool" and wanted to know what was in it.
I said, "Nothing yet." The Sunsphere would be a perfect observation
deck.....tourists love observation decks. I always try to visit the
highest observation deck in any city I visit. I'm sure there's room
up there for a cafe, gift shop.....a place that just exuded Knoxville
and sold everything "Knoxville." The Sunsphere has such potential. It
could be a great site for a nice, romantic restaurant. It would be great
with exterior nighttime lighting to show the world the symbol of Knoxville.
Speaking of the skyline, my second idea is perhaps, on the surface,
superficial, but I believe it would be a good move for the city. Knoxville
needs a new skyscraper...one with a towering spire or two. As I recall,
the original Worsham Watkins redevelopment plan called for a thirty
story office tower in the vicinity of the World's Fair Park. I truly
feel that this would have been a great idea, and still IS a great idea.
I have read that there is plenty of commercial space downtown....but
is it the right kind of space? The exit of AmSouth from downtown tells
me maybe not. I would have loved for AmSouth to build a great new high-rise
downtown instead of Bearden. A new tower would generate a great deal
of excitement dowtown. I recently read an article about how much energy
was created in downtown Nashville in 1994 when the BellSouth building
was completed. That energy is still producing new projects. From a visual
standpoint, a new fantastic building screams to anyone passing by "Look
at us! We've got great things going on here." With all the excitement
currently involved with downtown Knoxville, this is an opportunity that
could become a reality. Perhaps Tennessee's tallest building could be
going up in Knoxville soon, letting the state and nation know that this
city is not to be overlooked. Forty stories sounds good to me! I really
have no idea how the city would go about this task....is it something
the city can try to recruit for? I would venture to say the cost would
be too high for the city to build the building itself, but we could
actively try to get someone to invest in this newest venture.
I hope my ideas have been helpful....perhaps different from any you
may have already gotten. I LOVE downtown Knoxville. I chose it as the
place to propose to my wife in 2001. I want it to grow and prosper and
be the jewel of East Tennessee.
I wanted to comment on the potential renovations of city-owned assets
on the World's Fair Park. My family and I often go to the Knoxville
Arts and Crafts Center (located in the Candy Factory building). We love
to take classes there and feel that it is a vital part of the downtown
area. Whatever decisions are made, please do not take away the valuable
resources that currently exist there.
These buildings (namely, the Candy Factory, the victorian houses, the
Sunsphere, and the amphitheater) need to preserved for the public as
"parks" were preserved in the olden days, as a service to the citizens
and NOT primarily as a revenue-producing stream. This is so important
these days when more and more cities are caving into private developers
and selling off valuable green space and other public space for a one-time
windfall, only to have these areas gone forever and a hideous development
in their place.
Victorian houses: It appears that the REAL hidden monster in all of
this is ADA compliance. How in the world does one make a 19th-century
Victorian house ADA compliant w/o ruining it? I highly suspect the city
may want to punt the responsibility for these structures for this reason
alone. The city needs to work with people who are knowledgeable about
how to circumvent the draconian measures required by ADA compliance.
Check with the TN Theater staff (Becky Hancock) on how the renovation
of the theater dealt with these issues on the historic parts that were
redone. There must be some way that the houses can be put to limited
public use and not have to make them ALL accessible by wheelchairs.
Also, higher lease rates for these houses - BAD IDEA. This would just
cause higher impact businesses to move in - those types of businesses
that would require more parking, more interior modifications, etc. In
short, the houses and surrounding landscaping would be ruined, and all
Amphitheater: Although the price for renovating the amphitheater is
$2.5M (small potatoes in the scheme of things, considering recent city
projects that have enrichened local contractors), the actual cost of
just making the thing structurally sound again is $300,000, as revealed
by Mr. Rountree. All the rest of the cost appears to be tied into renovating
the moldy office space within the structure, rewiring, comfy seats,
and other more cosmetic stuff such as putting new pavers down (the old
ones went to Chilhowee Park, apparently). I recommend that money be
committed to make it structurally sound, so that it can be put to limited
use, and the ugly fence taken down. Worry about the office space inside
(and other frivolous cosmetic things), later. The fact that this venue
is capable of entertaining audiences of 1200 people or fewer makes it
a valuable asset for music and other forms of entertainment that may
not want to make the leap to the TN Theater (the Bijou apparently being
in a semi-permanent state of limbo). I don't think that people will
care too much about state-of-the-art seating; afterall, this is the
town where people put up with untold discomfort to view mind-numbing
entertainment by semi-professional athletes posing as "students" passing
and kicking a pigskin object around.
The Candy Factory: this is the most important building for the city
to continue to operate. It provides a lot of people free space for educational
outreach and public service. If these non-profits and other quasi-governmental
organzations had to pay for this space in a privately-owned building,
these activities simply wouldn't be available for Knoxville citizens,
at least not anywhere near on the same scale. The deck on the 7th floor
provides an unbelievable vista of the city, where the old Flamingos
restaurant used to be... consider renovating this. And get a decent
elevator that will last more than 20 years - totally crazy that it is
worn out, already!
The Sunsphere: It's a wild 1970's time capsule! (I know it was built
for 1982, but it epitomizes '70s architecture.) I love the spherical
lampshades on the ceiling, and groovy clear plastic bubbles on pedestals
to read the typed-out factoids (so quaint!) about the World's Fair.
I figure people wait for hours to go up in St. Louis's Arch, why not
the Sunsphere? (Hint: revenue stream, here!) Eighty percent of the crowd
that gathered May 6 for the tour were ONLY interested in going up in
the Sunsphere. Just keep it the way it is; it is way cool in a neo-retro
sort of way. I totally agree with funding to keep it going again. Don't
pay attention to those naysayers who say it is "outdated" and "silly"
(the same short-sighted people who want to destroy the amphitheater).
We will be kicking ourselves 15-20 years from now if we let this great
1970s icon be destroyed. What harm is there in just keeping it there?
It is not like it is taking up valuable space. I heard someone say that
if more people had been allowed to go up there in the past 10 years,
we wouldn't have let Fort Sanders go so far down the path of destruction.
The convention center: I understand that this space is being downplayed
in order to promote the new ultra-expensive convention center space.
That is a shame. It is a perfectly usable space that has its place in
the conventioning scheme of things. Insist that SMG promote it more.
I say just keep it and use it for parking, if nothing else.
The Tennessee Amphitheatre, before dismantling was begun, was a wonderful,
small outdoor venue for many events for many years. Due to poor planning,
the Amphitheatre was not so very "user friendly" in that loading and
unloading of equipment was difficult, the electrical system was inadequate,
there were no "on-site" restrooms, and there was no concessions area
within the covered area. Even with its problems, the Amphitheatre was
a wonderful place for Shalkespeare in the Park, for the UT School of
Law Graduation Ceremony, for Church Events, for the Symphony Fourth
of July Concert, and so very much more. With the seats gone, the sound
system gone, the infrastructure deteriorated, and the brick walkway
removed, the cost of "restoring" the Amphitheatre may be prohibitive,
sadly. Event promoters (Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment primarily)
really liked the Amphitheatre and enjoyed having shows there. If it
isn't too late, I'd like to suggest that "we" make this historical,
architecturally significant structure useable again with improvements
to various areas to make it a really "user friendly" structure for both
events and attendees. Jim Begalla, retired former Director of World's
Fair Park would LOVE to be involved in bringing this structure back
"on line" I'm certain.
Any thoughts like a Rainforest Cafe' or some type of themed restaurant
in the Sunsphere? Both a local and regional draw. Not sure if the $$$
I would like to take this opportunity to submit an idea for a city/county
sponsored Skate Park for the kids of Knoxville. I am a parent of a 13
year old who recently was inducted into the Junior National Honor Society.
I was not sure where to send this E-mail to, but I took the advantage
of using your current web suggestions for the Sun sphere. I think a
skate park centered around the Sun sphere may meet many parents and
children's wishes and needs. I live in the city so yes I am paying city
and county taxes, but I will tell you this, I AM willing to pay more
in taxes if we can provide a safe place for our kids to skate. Skating
has become a very lucrative business and if you check with the city
of Louisville, KY, they will attest to this. Anyway, thank you for your
time and consideration in this matter.
The SunSphere does such a awesome job of lighting up the Knoxville skyline
during daytime hours, should it not also light the night sky? This beautiful
landmark deserves attention all hours of the day and night. I'm sure
a poll of city residents would generate an overwhelming response pleading
for the sunshphere to glow orange and white. A strategically placed
scrolling marquee on the sunshpere (promoting current city sponsored
events) could also be considered. If its going to remain vacant, let
its purpose be to draw attention to our city and also promote current
events to all passing motorists and visitors.
I work at the South's Finest Chocolate Factory so I'm around the park
area pretty much daily. Whenever tourists -- and sometimes come in the
store they want to know the following:
1. Why isn't the Sunsphere open?
2. Are there any other shops in the area?
3. Where can we go to sit down and eat?
I really hate to give vague answers like "I don't know" or "Your best
bet would be to go to Market Square." And now that the visitor's center
is closed in the Candy Factory lobby, I'm sure we'll be innundated with
even more questions that those of us in the store can't really answer,
although it's never for lack of trying.
Ideally, I'd like to see the Candy Factory be renovated and have the
capacity to be filled with shops and restaurants. That way, those who
visit the park could get their shopping, eating and relaxing done all
in one area. Additionally some sort of information center is absolutely
needed in the area.
Perhaps some of the shops in the victorian houses could move to the
Candy Factory and the houses could be turned into apartments that overlook
downtown, or some art classes could even be moved into them. On the
public tour I was on someone mentioned that HGTV could come in and renovate
the condemned house. Since HGTV has already taken an interest in the
park with the gardens they installed, this would seem to be some sort
of natural progression.
The Sunsphere needs to be open, hands down. I realize it's not the only
attraction Knoxville has to offer, but it is the one most recognized
by those who would have otherwise never even noticed Knoxville. Also,
it'd be great to dispel the Simpsons myth that the thing holds thousands
The Tennessee Amphitheatre should remain, but if rebuilding it differently
would be less costly than repairing the existing structure, then that
may be the best way to go.
TN Amphitheater: THE ROOF STRUCTURE TO THIS BUILDING MUST BE SAVED!
If this structure cannot be used as an entertainment venue, convert
it to a café. Its adjacency to the new pond would make a pleasant eating
space. It is very important that we keep the roof structure intact.
It is a very special building for Knoxville and a part of our history
(a better memorial to the World's Fair than the sunsphere to some).
If you are worried about heating and cooling, or winter time use, consider
this: the same type of roof structure is used over the eating area at
Knoxville Center mall. Also, this structure is deteriorating rapidly.
Efforts should be made to repaint the areas exposed during testing to
protect the structure from further damage while its fate is decided.
Old Convention Center: This would make a great space for the new library!
The zoning of spaces lends itself to this type of use and its adjacency
to the park is ideal. A library would certainly be an appropriate function
in a cultural district. (There is an issue the city needs to address
about the library. The building currently housing the library is a special
building too, and plans need to be made for its proper reuse if the
library is relocated.)
The Park: Please do something about the dead end on the trail that leads
from Cumberland Avenue. This doesn't seem safe, and is certainly frustrating
if you really want to walk to the Convention Center from Cumberland.
Also, the fountain music is too loud. If a person wants to eat lunch
at the park during the week, the relaxing sounds of the fountain are
far preferable to the music.
Victorian Houses: Their scale makes a nice transition from Ft. Sanders
to downtown. They would make good art / museum shops or maybe Bed &
The Candy Factory: This is not a very inviting building on the park
side. It needs to have some vitality on the lower end. It needs a more
high-profile destination use, such as a restaurant.
The art museum: Please give this building some maintenance! It looks
terrible where the sealant is deteriorating between the stone panels.
There's probably a lot more work that needs to be done. Again, it needs
a better connection to the park.
Keeping the identity of this area as an arts and cultural district really
enhances the whole downtown. Working adjacent to the park, one cannot
help but notice how much more activity it generates than the new convention
center. People regularly wander over to our office in the L&N station
asking if there is a place nearby to eat lunch.
Reinforcing this area with more destinations, such as other museums,
places to eat, art shops, etc. would help to put this area even more
appealing. Consider the arts district around the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga
for inspiration: it has the museum, restaurants, shops, a park, a greenway
connection, and a bed and breakfast. These are readily achievable goals
The city should seriously consider hiring an urban planner or architect
to study the physical design of the area for ways to reinforce it as
an arts district (not just a park). The park needs more pedestrian connections
to Henley Street (and the rest of downtown) and to the museum and parking
on the other side of the railroad tracks.
Make the Sunsphere accessible to the public as quickly as possible.
The 4th floor should again be used as an observation deck. People would
be willing to pay for the experience to overlook the city. The 1st,
2nd and 3rd floors should be used as a tourist information center, storage
and/or maintenance area. Knoxville Tourism Alliance would be willing
to entertain management oversite.
The 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th floors should be leased out as a restaurant
at a very reasonable rate. A local restaurant operator may be willing
to operate it at limited hours as a small, affordable restaurant and
for banquet services. There have always been requests for weddings,
parties and meetings. One suggestion was to use the space with the blue
velour walls as a bar. Decorate it with memorabilia from the World’s
The Sunsphere is a piece of Knoxville history and culture that could
Everyone was in agreement that this facility should be turned into a
parking garage as we all know there is a vital need for parking in the
World’s Fair Park area. Without any more available parking, no one will
be able to appreciate any of the renovations. This may be leased out
to the Holiday Inn Select Downtown or another operator or kept by PBA,
however, there needs to be some assurance that there is no price gauging.
The ballroom, meeting rooms and public areas in the KCEC should be leased
to the Holiday Inn Select Downtown to more efficiently be utilized for
meeting and breakout space. They would be responsible for renovations
and upkeep. The lease should include provisions for public access.
Renovate the Amphitheatre and book it. Bring in a Spring, Summer and
Fall series of performances to this facility. Utilize it for fairs and
festivals and once again make it available for rental by groups for
special events and activities. It and the Sunsphere are the last remnants
of the World’s Fair. They are "uniquely Knoxville" and need to be preserved
and made to shine in our community.
Several suggestions for this facility:
- Convert into UT housing.
- RFP – use a developer to sell for retail space
- Complete the original plan to move the East Tennessee Discovery Center
into this building. Develop a small but first class hands-on children’s
science center giving families a reason to visit the area, also keeping
a portion a quaint retail facility with the top floor still available
to non-profit groups or others for a small fee.
They could be developed to compliment the theme and direction of the
Candy Factory. They are now serving a purpose for smaller businesses.
Repair the houses as best we can. The tenants should be willing to pay
more rent for continued use. Should they have to be removed, this would
serve as an excellent opportunity to expand Fort Kid – working well
with the East Tennessee Discovery Center move into the Candy Factory.
This again would bring families to the area.
Knoxville Tourism Alliance staff and board members are available for
further comments and discussion on the proposals for the World’s Fair
Park area. The renovations of the grounds was a huge step in developing
a theme for Knoxville. This area is "uniquely Knoxville" and should
be developed as such.
I am the chair of the Cultural Attractions Committee of the Arts and
Cultural Alliance, which is composed of 23 Knoxville-area museums and
cultural attractrions. We met last week and made a motion to request
the City of Knoxville to invest in the renovation of the Sunsphere and
Tennessee Amphitheatre to preserve their heritage and cultural attributes.
The committee also included in their motion a recommendation to turn
the Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center into a parking garage.
While heading to the Foundry recently for a lunch-time speaking engagement
I witnessed some mothers with their small children. The kids were dressed
in bathing suits and the moms were caring beach towels. They were headed
for the new fountains behind KMA. Then last Wednesday I had the opportunity,
as a member of the KTA board, to tour the sunsphere and give some thought
as to how this whole area should be dealt with. Putting these two events
together with the knowledge, as many folks in this know, that I am sort
of a kid oriented adult, some ideas began to flow.
I feel very strongly that to get our tourists downtown we have to get
our locals downtown. What if the area that includes the amphitheater,
the Sunsphere, the Candy Factory, the fountain, KMA, the 11th street
historic homes, and Fort Kid was developed and marketed as an area to
attract local families with children? Renovation of the amphitheater
and the Sunsphere to allow public use is key to this development as
is turning the old convention center into the proposed 600 spaces of
parking. Opening the Sunsphere observation deck is critical and should
happen sooner than later. Other parts of that facility could come on
line in the not too distant future. The amphitheater should be booked
with events to draw this audience spring, summer and fall. Another addition
to this kid attraction space would be the long talked about hands-on
children's science center in the Candy Factory. I have been in Knoxville
for 16 years. Since I came I have heard discussion of moving the East
Tennessee Discovery Center from Chilhowee Park to the Candy Factory.
They already have the Health Education facility on one floor. Why not
quit trying to dream so large (i.e. Universe Knoxville) and be a bit
more realistic. We have some great museum, kid, scientific minds in
this area. Lets use one floor of the Candy Factory to build the best,
most interactive small science center that we can. Don't try to make
it cover everything. Pick a theme and concentrate on it: saving our
earth or engage, inspire, empower kids to save our planet. Some theme
that will help people to understand and appreciate the beauty that is
East Tennessee and our world. Keep the candy store and add some more
quaint shops for kids and adults. Keep the rental space for area groups.
Then renovate Fort Kid and maybe even expand it some. The historic homes
could be shops that compliment the area activities. Things that cater
to kids and their parents like a place to have old time tea parties,
kids clothing store, turn one into a doll house where kids could go
in and play dress up-other days it could be the fort headquarters for
a different kind of dress up, how about and ice cream parlor. All this
along with the fountains to play in and parking right there...with an
aggressive marketing campaign it could be a big hit. Work with KMA to
always have some youth friendly exhibits and then once you get the locals
downtown, remind them that Blount Mansion, James White Fort, the East
Tennessee Historical Museum and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
(to name just a few) are within walking distance and you have started
the revitalization of downtown. Then build the multi-screen cinema and
the new library, throw in the Bijou and the TN Theater along with many
others and everyone will have more traffic to their doors.
I would like to see the area renovated and redeveloped, I would like
something that would draw the family into town , Restaurants , Movies
, or Convention events will not happen if Parking is not there and I
think that is the biggest issue with the Worlds Fair Park and Downtown,
Provide parking that is safe and free and then incorporate an area like
Downtown Nashville or Savannah Ga the river St. Shops and Restaurants
that they have there are real nice but people will not come to town
and spend Time and Money if they have to pay to park and not have safe
parking on top of that, and still in all this have a place still with
a park in the area and try and provide outdoor events that appeal to
Family's to drive Downtown. I may have it all wrong but it has to appeal
to people first and then there should be a benefit ,everybody like something
that's free and one other thing I think kills the City is the entertainment
tax , Groups or Entertainers will shy away because of an added expense
to an expensive event that is happening in the first place. Build it
and they will come but if it isn't appealing and there are burdens you
will have an empty space.