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Personally, although I do foresee many potential problems in the development of the underground urban landscape, the benefits will probably outweight the complications that Dewhirst will face in getting this project off the ground. Retail is vastly based in Knoxville on tourism and entertainment, but we are still lacking in comparison to cities such as Asheville or even Chattanooga. Therefore, the more feasible spatial elements we can allocate, the better off we are. Although the issues and regulations will take time and money to produce a safe and aesthetically pleasing urban space, I think it is important to look into our past as a means to rectify our current and future endeavors. If we look into the future (as in the next 50 years or so), the idea of an underground lightrail will always be a remote possibility that would service the community well (along with the new bus station). To limit urban sprawl, going underground might aid in urban growth while sustainably altering landscape in a way that utilizes the green spaces most effectively while taking very little away from the surrounding natural topography. If you look at all of the possibilities, the linear concepts of Edgar Chambless's "Roadtown" in the early 20th century are not such a far off possibility these days. Rather than simply building up, we build down a level (or two). Any steps towards sustainable architecture and utilizing unused spaces below street level could very well aid in the preservation of the buildings and catacombs of the Gay Street viaduct, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what they come up with in the next decade or so.
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