urban (2008-07)

Market Correction

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Urban Renewal

Mid-priced options in the downtown condo scene

by Matt Edens

Nationally, the housing market has taken a huge hit. Mortgage-backed securities have gone up in smoke. And, despite the dubious promises of a â“stimulus package,â” I suspect a fair number of Wall Street brokers are eyeing the window ledge.

Knoxville, too, is experiencing the effects of the current market correction. The number of Knox County residential building permits sank nearly nine percent in 2007, slipping below 2003 levels. And even downtownâ’s booming condo market isnâ’t immune to the housing bubbleâ’s burstâ"just not in the way you might imagine.

â“Interest is still high downtown,â” according to developer David Dewhirst, â“but there are fewer buyers as many canâ’t sell their existing houses.â” For all the worries that the downtown condo market was becoming â“overbuilt,â” itâ’s the â‘burbs where the real glut has occurred. â“We still have only a handful of units for sale downtown,â” says Dewhirst. He estimates the entire total, including other developersâ’ properties, at around 40 units and â“only 10 or so that are actually finished and ready to move into now.â” Only nine of the 43 units still under construction at Dewhirstâ’s flagship Holston project, for instance, remain unsold.

There is, however, something of a market correction occurring downtown. Developers are starting to respond to the frequent lament that downtown Knoxville is no longer affordable for a large number of people. Developer Jeffery Nashâ’s moderately priced North Central Village is nearing completion. Or, if youâ’re not looking to buy, last week Dewhirst received City Council approval for the much-needed Tax Increment Financing he needs to finish renovating the Old Cityâ’s JFG Building into 54 apartments, including 18 starting at around $450 a month. Meanwhile, over on the corner of Market and Clinch, thereâ’s the Cherokee, Dewhirstâ’s mid-market project with condos priced at or below the $200,000 mark, which is about as affordable as downtown gets these days.

The pricing on these one-bedroom, one-bath units two blocks from Market Square may be entry level, but the amenities arenâ’t. All feature standard luxury loft fixtures like hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances, plus maple cabinetry and washer/dryer connections. The upper floor spaces are all corner units, with lots of windows and natural light.

Cherokee Lofts Only Four Units Left From 750 to 850 sq. ft. All 1 bdrm/1bath $169,900 to $209,000 Contact: Dewhirst Properties 971-3137 www.dewhirstproperties.com

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