Although it doesn't technically start until next year, the 2010 census crept into the news lately. It turned up as a footnote to the scandal surrounding ACORN, the community organizing group hired—and subsequently fired—to help with the count.
Personally, I don't really care who tallies up the numbers. I am curious to see the final count, though. Demographically, it's been an eventful decade in and around downtown Knoxville. Ten years ago, the Sterchi was still on the drawing board, much less the dozen or so subsequent projects that have made loft living a reality for an increasing number of Knoxvillians.
A decade ago, the census counted 1,300 people living downtown (and perhaps approximately 15 of them were inmates in the county jail). Middle- and upper-income condo dwellers accounted for a tiny percentage of the total, though. Of 766 total households, a mere 64 had incomes over $50,000. And only 15 of those had six-figure incomes—hardly enough to fill the higher-priced units in the Holston or Burwell.
The Holston and Burwell are two of the big reasons I'm anxious to see the numbers. In 2000, both were office buildings struggling with a shortage of paying tenants. And they were better off than many of the buildings the condo dwellers now call home. Just to name three, the Sterchi, Gallery Lofts, and Phoenix were empty and all but abandoned. Almost all the downtown housing growth over the last decade has come from adapting otherwise empty buildings that weren't originally designed for residential. As such, they represent a net gain.
The growth has had an impact on the buildings that were already residential in 2000, too. Not only are original condo conversions like the Pembroke more marketable, other older residential buildings are seeing their first significant upgrades in decades.
Consider the Glencoe and Elliot, at the corner of Church and State. When downtown was in the doldrums, these attractive old apartment buildings fell on hard times. Today, they're in the midst of a multi-million dollar renovation and condo conversion. The work will leave original features like the fancy woodwork and balconies intact, while bringing the units up to the level of fit and finish expected in upscale lofts: all-new kitchens with granite and stainless steel, plus custom tile showers in the baths. And, since the buildings were originally residential, they also include tough-to-find loft features like gas fireplaces. m
The Glencoe & Elliot
2 bdrm/2 bath units
Approx 1,500 sq. ft.
4 bdrm/3 bath penthouse
approx 3,300 sq. ft.
Contact: Kimberly Dixon Hamilton