urban_renewal (2006-48)

Get in while you still can

A Parkridge Renaissance?

by Matt Edens

It figures, I suppose. A little over a year ago, not long after my wife and I sold our house in Parkridge, the neighborhood started booming like never before. Prices started going up, new people started moving in, and now the neighborhood is even about to get some big-time TV exposure thanks to Knox Heritage’s plan to renovate two long-condemned George Barber-designed homes on Washington Avenue as part of HGTV and The National Trust’s “Restore America” program. 

Just a few days ago, I took a quick tour of the neighborhood with a realtor friend. We drove by houses that had been empty and boarded up for years that are now under construction. (Kent Kendrick’s restoration of another rundown Barber house at the corner of Jefferson and Monroe is particularly impressive.) Other promising sights included a number of houses with dumpsters in the yard alongside signs from High Oaks construction, one of Knoxville’s best restoration contractors.

Perhaps even more impressive, as the realtor drove me around, she pointed to various houses and rattled off what seemed like a dozen different names that were new to me—some were folks she’d helped settle into the neighborhood and a few people had found out about it via my proselytizing in the Pulse , but a surprising number had found a home in Parkridge pretty much on their own. Something, it seems, is happening in this historic ’hood just northeast of the Old City.

It’s just the natural progression of center-city revitalization. As other neighborhoods become built-out, their last fixer-uppers filled with new families, the cycle shifts to a different part of the city and starts over. That’s what my wife Kristi and I figured when we bought our house, just across the interstate from Fourth and Gill, some 12 years ago. We had the right idea; we were just a little ahead of the curve, is all. Nice to see Knoxville catching up, with the help of a booming downtown market that is also helping to shift the surrounding neighborhoods into high gear.

The housing stock helps, too. Parkridge is a place where you can still find value-priced fixer-uppers like this story-and-a-half bungalow on Woodbine Avenue. Sure, it’s a little rough around the edges, but look past the peeling paint and funky carpet and you’ll find tons of original features like oak floors throughout the first floor, doors with original Arts-and-Craft-style hardware, the original fireplace, and built-in bookcases in the living room, plus a fantastic built-in china cabinet in the dining room. But the best thing about this bungalow has to be that, at just shy of 2,000 square feet, it offers four bedrooms and two baths for under $40 a square foot.

2505 Woodbine Avenue