urban_renewal (2007-01)

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Take me to the river

Waterfront? Why Wait?

As you may have read, big things are in store for the south side of Knoxville’s riverfront. Redevelopment is coming in a big way: condos, restaurants, retail, a riverfront promenade, maybe a marina. The idea is that, once the rusting and rundown industrial properties along the river are replaced, the revitalization will spread like so-much kudzu, kicking off a wave of investment from Old Sevier to Vestal.

It’s a long-term project, one that could take 20 years or more to come to fruition but, luckily, there are some places in South Knoxville where the seeds of revitalization are already thriving. Lindbergh Forest is one. Just over the ridge from Baptist Hospital, it’s a well-hidden enclave of Tudors and Colonials comparable to North Hills, Holston Hills or even Sequoyah Hills (without Sequoyah’s premium price). But my favorite neighborhood south of the river has to be Island Home.

Island Home Park, as it’s properly called, was developed just after the turn of the last century on property belonging to Perez Dickinson, Victorian-era merchant prince and cousin of a certain poet named Emily. His old home place, appropriately called “Island Home,” still stands on the campus of the Tennessee School for the Deaf (whose acreage was also carved out of the Dickinson estate). It’s hardly the only handsome house in Island Home, however. A streetcar may no longer run down the shady median that divides Island Home Boulevard (although the neighborhood does still have KAT bus service), but the street is lined with some of the finest Colonial Revival and Arts and Craft style homes in the city. Elsewhere, on Spence, Hillsboro and Fisher Place, you can also find big, rambling bungalows like this one on Maplewood Drive.

Beautifully restored, this four-bedroom, three-bath home has hardwood floors and original Arts and Crafts features like French doors, a fireplace mantle and a beautiful built-in china cabinet in the dining room. Updated for modern living, the house has a main-level master bedroom, plus a bonus room in the basement complete with a kitchenette. Outside, the house features a fabulous full-length front porch, fenced and landscaped backyard, off-street parking and even a detached garage.

But the best thing about this house may be yet to come. Not only is it currently mere minutes from downtown (and around the corner from Ijams), but once the waterfront development is done it’ll seem even closer. The waterfront promenade, and maybe even some of those restaurants and shops, should be within walking distance.

1942 Maplewood Dr.

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