â"Trading Spacesâ"

You donâ't have to move far to move up

â“Trading Spacesâ”

You donâ’t have to move far to move up


Urban Renewal

by Matt Edens

In new subdivisions across Knox County, segregation is the norm. Not in the Jim Crow sense of the word, but look around and it is plain to see that modern real estate developments are pretty well pigeonholed. A development will almost always consist of a single price-point, be it drab, vinyl box â“starter homes,â” mid-priced, brick-on-the-front, vinyl-around-back strivers, or the all-brick McMansion whose â“estate lotâ” overlooking the lake or the eighth tee says that, yes, youâ’ve made it (at least until the ARM kicks inâ).

It didnâ’t always work that way. Drive around any of Knoxvilleâ’s historic center-city neighborhoods and youâ’ll see bungalows and cottages beside big robber-baron Victorians and vice-versa. There may be shotguns along one street and mansions on the next, with the occasional apartment building tossed in, almost at random. The vagaries of gentrification only add to the variety. One house may be immaculately restored, while another may still contain two or three units.

Curiously, thereâ’s an advantage to all this complexity. In most new developments, moving up â“the property ladder,â” as itâ’s called, requires shifting from one subdivision to the next. (And donâ’t forget that first big move out of the apartment complex.) But, living in one of Knoxvilleâ’s old neighborhoods, itâ’s possible to make those same upward steps by merely moving a few doors down.

Not only does that make it easier for the post office to find your forwarding address, but it also keeps the social network of neighbors intact. And that may be the secret of success for neighborhoods like 4th and Gill, where people have been steadily â“trading spacesâ” for more than 25 years.

The owners of this house on Luttrell, for instance, bought it from folks who now live on Eleanor. Theyâ’re selling now because theyâ’re buying a house from a couple around the corner who, in turn, have moved across the street. And I have several friends who have done the same thing, moving up into a bigger house in the neighborhood as their family grows. (Which, in itself, says something about 4th and Gill: People want to stay.)

At three bedrooms and two full baths, this house is actually a mid-sized model. With Arts and Crafts details like the knee brackets under the roof-line or the casement windows flanking the living room fireplace, itâ’s loaded with historic features. Fully restored, complete with central heat and air, its big, bright rooms are ready for a modern lifestyle. And should you someday outgrow it, rest easy knowing that 4th and Gill can most likely accommodate your needs, maybe even next door.


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