A Starter Condo Open at Fire Street Lofts

A right-sized (and priced) loft close to everything downtown

Fire Street Lofts

220 W. Jackson | 862 sq. ft. | 1 bdrm/1 bath | $219,500 | Contact: Chad Wiles, RE/MAX: 773-6620

For years now, when stressing the symbiotic relationship between downtown and the neighborhoods immediately surrounding it, I've focused on how neighborhoods like Fourth and Gill and Parkridge or Old North and Old Sevier support downtown. Promoting real estate in Knoxville's historic center-city, I've often mentioned how, in a microcosm of Manhattan, downtown Knoxville's "outer boroughs" provide lower-priced options for people who can't afford a Gay Street condo. Likewise, when reminding city government about the importance of those 'hoods, I've pointed out how their inhabitants constitute a crucial market for downtown merchants and restaurateurs.

Recently, however, I was reminded of the flip side of downtown's ongoing relationship with its surrounding neighborhoods. It is, like the points above, a function of the central business district's tight geography, which restricts the supply of downtown housing, drives up the price, and limits the types of housing available.

"We're moving to a house," read the headline in the Facebook Marketplace posting a friend forwarded to me about this condo in the Fire Street Lofts. I won't dwell on the particulars, other than to say it's an endless variation on a timeless story: Hip, young (or young-ish) single or couple moves to the city to enjoy all the energy and entertainment city life entails. The household expands—marriage, maybe a child—and a move to the suburbs follows.

In this case, the suburb in question is Fourth and Gill. It, like the other old streetcar suburbs surrounding downtown, allow a young couple, family, or single access to one thing that's mighty rare downtown—a single-family home—without entirely forsaking the downtown lifestyle. Downtown, in that regard, becomes a feeder for the neighborhoods around it, allowing people a place to move to, meet, and mingle before eventually settling down.

Some stay downtown. Others don't. It's a cycle I've seen repeated over and over among my own circle of friends, a fair number of whom have traded downtown lofts for a house in Fourth and Gill, Old North, or Parkridge. The move adds to the growing number of middle-class homeowners settling in the center city, but it also creates a new opening downtown, allowing the process to start over.

I doubt this place will remain open for long, though. Located where the Old City and the Hundred Block hinge, it's conveniently close to all the eating, shopping, and entertainment downtown offers. Inside, it has high ceilings with exposed beams, hardwood floors, and exposed brick walls. There's stainless steel and granite in the kitchen and colorful ceramic tile in bath. Tall windows provide city views, while a loft tucked overhead adds office or guest space.