Not Too Steep

Investing in a South Knoxville Viewpoint

North Central

2673 Sherrod Rd.
900 sq. ft., 2 bdrm, 1 bath
Jessica Rodocker
Horizon Realty
523-9550 or 386-3311

As a building hugger from way back, I regretted reading about the home on Sevier Avenue that's to be demolished for road improvements planned for the South Waterfront. ["Preeminent Domain," Citybeat, Nov. 20, 2008] These things do happen, however, particularly with regard to road projects in densely developed urban areas. Widening I-40, for instance, pruned four houses from Parkridge's northwest corner. Another, across the interstate on Glenwood, managed to escape a similar fate thanks to some last-minute house moving by Knox Heritage, followed by a subsequent rehab and resale.

The same could occur in South Knoxville. Lord knows the Phillips Avenue section of Old Sevier could use the strengthening. The city, based on a blog response by South Waterfront manager Dave Hill, seems willing to consider moving the house to another lot. Of course that would require coming to terms with the bungalow's current owner, who is holding out for almost twice the city's offer of $96,000.

Considering the current condition of the home and 'hood, the owner's asking price sounds a bit steep. Although, as blogger Randy Neal, who grew up in the house, observed: "all those houses along there have a lot of potential if the South Waterfront plan ever develops beyond the condos on the river."

He's right, of course. But how, exactly, will that potential be realized? Revitalizing Phillips Avenue, or most of Old Sevier, isn't a job for the condo developers. The grid of streets and dozens of individual lots preclude it, as does the redevelopment plan, which discourages developers from assembling those lots into larger parcels (a historic designation or two wouldn't hurt, either). Revitalizing Old Sevier will be the work of dozens of individual homeowners and investors, much like Fourth and Gill, Old North, and Parkridge. The money in play on the waterfront proper will dwarf their efforts, same as the sums spent converting Gay Street into condos upstaged any house-rehab dollars spent in Fourth and Gill. The spin-off, however, will work the same. It's their proximity to those waterfront condos and the public space along the river that'll make them attractive investments.

It also makes this circa 1940 cottage on Sherrod Road an excellent buy. Perched atop the ridge that marks the southern boundary of the South Waterfront, it would feel closer to the Smokies than the river if not for the occasional glimpse of downtown through the trees. Filled with hardwood floors and details like French doors and a stone fireplace, the interior is quite charming. But it's the exterior, with a sunroom and deck overlooking the deep woods, that's truly stunning. Plus, at only $118,000, the asking price for this hilltop home is anything but steep.