Scooping The Times

Downtown condo boom? We're on itâor near it

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URBAN RENEWAL

by Matt Edens

If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere . The old Sinatra lyric came to mind the other morning when I stumbled across an exhaustive article on downtown Knoxville's condo boom in, of all places, the real estate section of The New York Times . Downtown, it seems, is no longer a well-kept secret.

And that's not just The Times talking, either. A year out from completion, condos in Gay Street's Holston building are bringing upwards of $250 a square foot, with 70 percent of the project's 41 units already pre-sold. Cityview at Riverwalk, over on the South Waterfront and also a year from completion, is commanding even higher prices and is likewise 70 percent sold out, with 84 of its 122 units already spoken for. In other words, The Times is only letting the rest of the country in on something lots of locals already know: Downtown Knoxville is back.

The renewal, moreover, isn't limited to the rather constricted confines of what Knoxville defines as downtown. Looking over the last five properties I've written up for Metro Pulse , four of them listed for over $200,000, two at more than 300 grand. All four were just outside downtown proper in Fourth and Gill or Old North Knoxville, where such price tags are not uncommon these days. Nor is it a coincidence that the fifth, like this week's featured property, is an attractively priced bungalow in Parkridge.

For just $66 a square foot, about a quarter what a condo in the Holston would cost, this house on Glenwood is move-in ready with updated kitchen, laundry and central heat and air. There are also hardwood floors, fireplaces and features like original three-over-one windows that, with a little sweat equity, could easily transform this already solid house into an Arts & Crafts showplace. Outside, the house offers amenities most downtown addresses don't: off-street parking, a big front porch and a fenced yard with two storage buildings.

Loaded with similar values, the neighborhood just northeast of the Old City and adjacent to the new Caswell Park and Cansler YMCA has become a popular destination for cost-conscious consumers who want proximity to downtown but are unwilling to pay the premium Old North and Fourth and Gill increasingly require. And, while the prices remain affordable, the area has seen its share of financial spin-off from downtown's real estate boom. Average per-square-foot sales prices in Parkridge have more than doubled since 2003. That, in my opinion, is a pretty newsworthy development, even if it didn't make The New York Times .

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