Thursday, June 25, 2009


I just read about this controversy on Market Square and was wondering what all of you think about it.

The owner of 37 Market Square, the location of the Gus's Restaurant on Wall Avenue, wants to demolish the building within sixty days. I was surprised to hear that even the city is okay with this with the justification that the building has lost its historical significance because it has undergone so many changes over the years.

Of course, Knox Heritage has had something to say against this plan, and Kim Trent the executive director was quick to ask the owner to rethink his choice of demolition. In his defense, the owner has said the new construction will be one that he thinks the community will embrace and will maintain the integrity of Market Square.

I guess I'm just surprised it would be this easy to tear down a building in Market Square or that people would continue to overlook historic preservation as one of the main factors in the revitalization of downtown.

What do y'all think?


Jim Clark said...

It's his building. If it weren't for the investment of entrepreneurs we wouldn't have the building in the first place. Besides, I've never really thought of it as particularly attractive.

Jim Clark said...

Here's what I could find on Wiki about it.,_Knoxville

Jim Clark said...

ck said...

I am a preservationist, but I don't take the hard line of old=historic. That building detracts from the historic character of Market Square, and just because its bricks were fired a hundred years ago doesn't give it any historic value. If he was making it a parking lot, then I would argue to keep the old building to maintain the density of the urban fabric. But since he is proposing to replace it with another building of equal or greater density, then I say go for it.

Plus, he'll have to submit architectural elevations to the Historic Zoning Commission for approval, and they'll make sure the new building looks appropriate for the Square. So in this case, I disagree with Knox Heritage and say tear it down. I hope that he builds a four story building that would match the other "bookend" building across the Square.

One caveat, though. Often a developer will tear down an old building with the stated intention of replacing it, then inexplicably has no money to move forward and voila! a parking lot. Jack Neely proposed a few months back that developers should have to submit a bond to the city that would be paid back after the building was built, as insurance against the above scenario. I don't think this will happen with 37 (the lot is too narrow and high profile) but maybe this would be a good pilot run for the bond idea.

Anonymous said...

If you're in the preservation game, then you win some and you lose some. This picture speaks for itself, frankly, and its more eyesore and has-been than anything else.

Just my two cents.

Wright said...

Also, remember that the buildings housing Earth to Old City, Oodles and the World Grotto are complete rebuilds. It was basically new construction from the ground up. The only things original to those buildings are the facades and a couple of exterior walls.

B said...

The owner talks about having outdoor seating along Wall Street. I wonder how that's going to work out. His plan seems well-intentioned, but there is no guarantee that he'll do what he says he'll do. I'd like to see the proposed idea and then hear how the city will make sure he'll follow through.

The building now really isn't very attractive. I just hope the new plan doesn't involve a stucco "T" made from the exterior columns like Koi did. ew.

The Modern Gal said...

It doesn't seem like there's enough room for Wall St. seating?

I like CK's take on it. Sometimes new construction does a better job of maintaining the historic feel. But it is scary how many things are torn down in the spirit of rebuilding them for the better and then never replaced.

Anonymous said...

I almost never can find a building that I'd give up on. I'm a die hard and can somehow almost always find the good in even the most abused buildings. I prove it every day.

However, CK is right on target here I think. Every now and then a building just isn't ever going to meet it's potential without basically being a new one. This one I"m open to negotiation because it's just not got much to offer. If it sat anywhere else in town no one would say a word. Just stand on the side walk along Wall Avenue and look down the edge of the building and see the differential in what is supposed to be a structural wall. I'd bet money it's three inches off. It's not only not remotely an interesting building that has been butchered over the years, but it's close to falling down anyway.

Here's a toast his design is truly a nice, applicable, sensitive replacement that doesn't over do it and fits right in. .....Brian