Go Independent

Save energy the old-fashioned way in the Old City

Fire Street Lofts #306

1,600 sq. ft.
2 bdrm, 2 bath
$329,900
contact: Kimberly Dixon Hamilton
Downtown Realty: 588-5535
knoxvilledowntownrealty.com

Whether the rhetoric comes from politicians caging votes or agribusiness lobbyists shopping for subsidies, "Energy Independence" is a term that gets tossed around a lot these days. Typically, it's invoked in the context of some transformative technology that will allow us to keep Wal-Mart's "Warehouse on Wheels" and the cars in our garage running indefinitely. You know the jive: We'll be able to keep puttering along as always, only without the inconvenience of having to kowtow to anyone in a turban.

Personally, I have some doubts as to whether that's do-able, particularly in the short term. Someday, we may all be tooling around town on fuel cells, lithium-ion batteries, or used French-fry oil. But, for the moment, these technologies all have issues—whether it's price, practicality, or questions about their own sustainability. (For instance, where's all that hydrogen supposed to come from?)

Luckily, declaring personal energy independence doesn't depend on some enviro-geek perfecting a guilt-free substitute for gasoline. Instead, all you need is a technological innovation that's been around for thousands of years: shoes. Heck, if it weren't for some pesky health codes pertaining to going barefoot in various eating establishments and other businesses, you wouldn't even need shoes. (Knoxville is in East Tennessee, after all…)

Seeing as it predates the automobile by centuries, urban living is intrinsically pedestrian friendly. And that readily translates to fewer fill-ups. A few weeks ago, for instance, I noticed I'd finally driven my car (yes, I do own a car…) past the mileage listed on that little "every 3,000 miles" oil-change reminder sticker on the inside of my windshield. But when I took it in for service, I got a mild rebuke from my mechanic. Seems it had been a whole year since my last oil change.

Granted, I mostly work at home. But I also walk for most of my errands and entertainment. And I know a few downtown dwellers who have ditched their cars entirely. One even works way out in West Knoxville, but rides the bus. And, since downtown serves as KAT's primary transfer hub, living there is like flying out of Atlanta: Most trips are "direct flights."

So, when it comes to declaring energy independence, why wait? Snag a sweet condo like this one in The Old City's Fire Street Loft and enjoy the convenience of easy walking distance to destinations like Market Square, Mast General and multiple nightspots and restaurants. Or stay home and relax amid amenities like high ceilings with exposed beams, exposed brick walls and hardwood floors, baths with mosaic tile, and a kitchen with granite countertops and stainless appliances (there's even a wine chiller). There's also an individual balcony with city views and, should you still need it, deeded, on-site parking.