Q&A: Katie Powell, organizer of volunteers for this year’s Downtown Home Tour

Katie Powell, part of the Board of Directors for City People, is organizing the volunteers for this year’s Downtown Home Tour, held Saturday, Oct. 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Do you feel like the landscape of downtown homes has changed in some way in the past few years?

The sheer amount of homes available has really changed downtown. With all the new residential developments being renovated and becoming available, it has made living downtown that much more accessible. You now find all sorts of people living here—families, professionals, retirees, students—and you meet a lot of recent transplants to East Tennessee.

Are there any homes on the tour you’re particularly excited about?

The cool thing is the variety of downtown residences available to tour. We have renovated buildings such as the Gallery Lofts, the Glencoe, and the Phoenix—and we also have new construction such as Riverside Condos and the Residences at Market Square. We are also excited to feature Knoxville’s first residence, the James White Fort. The tour this year stretches from the 400 block of Gay Street down to the Tennessee River, with a shuttle available for the attendees.

How’d you get involved with this effort?

I joined City People when I moved downtown three years ago and had my house in the Daylight Building on that year’s tour.

Any chance you’ll ever hold a tour of downtown pet spaces?

I’m not sure about that, although with the abundance of furry critters downtown I’m sure it would be interesting. I myself share my space with a pug and an English bulldog.

How does the tour work?

You can buy tickets online (citypeople.org) or at Bliss Home Market Square up until the day before, or the day of from the start of the tour at the East Tennessee Community Design Center (500 S. Gay St.). Your badge grants you entry into the residences, and you may tour at your leisure. The Home Tour Guide Book includes a walking map of the residences with shuttle pick-up points, and information about each home.

Who benefits from the proceeds?

The Home Tour benefits City People, which supports other organizations’ events in the center city by way of grants.

What’s your favorite part of living downtown?

The sense of community between all the residents and businesses. It is the best sense of a neighborhood I’ve experienced. Plus just about anything you could need is footsteps away.

What aspect would you like to see improved?

Hmmm, I guess the perception that there isn’t parking. Which there is, you just might have to walk more than a few yards to your car. And that is a perception we hope to change with the Home Tour—one of our residences even has parking attached!

Can those touring look in the fridge?

If you feel you must look in the refrigerator, I’d ask the homeowner or tour volunteer first. Some owners will be in their residences along with the volunteers while others might be out going on the tour themselves or just enjoying downtown Knoxville.

For advance discount tickets or more information, visit citypeople.org.

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