Three years ago, Tom Weiss, something of a nonconformist among Knoxville developers, heralded his creation, Highlands Row—an unusual brick-faced retail center, with high ceilings, a mezzanine, and steel and copper work. The location, just off Kingston Pike at the Sequoyah Hills end of Bearden, seemed perfect.
His timing was not. Weiss didn't expect the global recession, or the extraordinary extent of the disruption associated with TDOT's lengthy work on rebuilding and expanding the bridges over the railroad at Kingston Pike and Forest Park. That's just been completed, and almost immediately Weiss signed his first tenant, photographers Kreis Beall and Heather Anne Thomas Longo. Going by Beall and Thomas, the small studio's best known for their promotional work, and for illustrating the Blackberry Farms Cookbook, as well as a Ruby Tuesday cookbook; Beall is married to Sandy Beall, founder of the multinational Ruby Tuesday's chain.
There remain five retail spaces in the complex. Remarking on his three-year wait for a suitable tenant, Weiss recalls a sort of survivalist canoeing adventure in Manitoba just before taking on this project. "I learned you just keep putting one foot in front of the other," he says. "That has served me well in the last three years."