urban (2007-40)

Return on Investment

urban renewal

A new breed of investors are restoring old neighborhoods

by Matt Edens

Used to be, â“investorâ” was a dirty word in Knoxvilleâ’s historic neighborhoods, a polite way of saying â“slumlord.â” These were the guys that, letâ’s be frank, all those historic designations and design guidelines were supposed to defend against. You know the type: the absentee landlord who couldnâ’t care less about a neighborhood they almost never set foot in.

Some were essentially full-time landlords, amassing large portfolios of property (often under a variety of holding companies to better confuse those crazy neighbors who would call up and complain about how the grass never got mowed). Others were small-time: some accountant or lawyer from the suburbs trolling for a tax write-off. Either way, the M.O. was the same: buy the house cheap, carve it up into apartments, lease it and, so long as the rent checks cleared, ignore it. (And if the tenants tore the place up, big deal. That way you could stick â‘em for the damage deposit).

Lately, though, Knoxvilleâ’s historic center-city neighborhoods have been attracting a different sort of investorâ"the sort whose investment provides a return for the neighborhood as well as his or her own pocket. And thatâ’s not just in Old North and 4th and Gill, either. Neighborhoods like Mechanicsville and Parkridge are seeing an increasing number of investors take a house some slumlord has cut up and restore it back to single-family. For instance, the investor finishing up this house in Old North, fresh from redoing one in 4th and Gill, has already begun preliminary work on his next project: a Victorian in Parkridge that was previously three units. And considering the fine job heâ’s done with this roomy foursquare on Scott, Iâ’m looking forward to what heâ’ll do in my old â’hood.

Tipping the tape at 2,500 square feet, this five-bedroom, three-bath house has been fully restored inside and out. Not only are there gorgeous details, like beautifully refinished oak and heart-pine floors or the new maple cabinets, stainless steel appliances, and granite tops in the kitchen, thereâ’s also a ton of work you wonâ’t see. Underneath, this homeâ’s solid bones have been updated with new plumbing and wiring, plus two separate HVAC systems, double-pane insulated windows, and a security system. With a large 60â’x 180â’ lot that features stunning views of downtown and the mountains beyond, plus plenty of dry storage in the unfinished basement, itâ’s a great investment at less than $100 per square foot.

136 E. Scott

2,500 sq. ft.

5 bedroom/3 bath


Contact: Kevin Nelson

(423) 432-5936


All content © 2007 Metropulse .