urban_renewal (2006-30)

Can’t keep away from downtown? No problem

414 E. Columbia Ave.


by Matt Edens

Having enjoyed a good many pints at Preservation Pub over the years, I was sad to learn of the raid Sunday before last by federal agents and the subsequent arrests of owners Scott and Bernadette West. They’re good people, and they’ve played no small role in the rejuvenation of Market Square in particular and downtown as a whole. I wish them well and hope that their current legal problems can be resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Their status as some of the square’s largest property owners has led, inevitably, to some speculation about the viability of its businesses and, on a broader level, the future viability of downtown in general. Such questions are understandable, I suppose. Still in its fledgling stages, downtown’s revival is a fairly fragile thing. But, at the same time, I suspect it’s more resilient than is often realized.

From Sundown in the City to First Friday to the Farmer’s Market, crowds have grown steadily (if not exponentially), reaching levels that seemed like mere fantasy just a few years ago. It’s not unusual to find a good number of folks on the square even when there’s nothing special going on—a rather special development in its own right. After decades of doldrums, Knoxville has rediscovered what it feels like to have a lively, living and breathing downtown. And the experience has proved, dare I use the word, addictive.

More remarkable than the growing number of folks who come down casually on an occasional Thursday, Friday or Saturday is the increase among downtown’s habitual users: center-city residents. And I’m not just talking about downtown’s condos and lofts, either, or those living in well-established enclaves like Fourth and Gill. Remarkable things are happening to the real estate market in places like Parkridge and Oakwood Lincoln Park, thanks largely to their combination of proximity to downtown and affordable prices.

Take this house at 415 East Columbia in Oakwood/Lincoln Park. Only a few minutes drive from downtown, this

The inside of the house features hardwood floors and tons of original woodwork that’s never been painted, including French doors and three-over-one craftsman windows with original hardware intact. Downstairs there’s even a full, dry daylight basement complete with a soundproof music room. It’s no wonder the current owner fell in love with the place shortly after moving in from West Knoxville. And she wouldn’t be leaving now if weren’t for a growing family and the fact that she’s found the house she always wanted—even closer to downtown, of course.

414 E. Columbia Ave.