May 28 2008
12:05 pm

The City of Knoxville is preparing for repair and reconstruction work on the underground structures supporting the 100 block of Gay St. which was raised about 90 years ago. The project is expected to begin in the fall and will involve "extensive construction work and street closure on the 100 block."

There's a public meeting at 5:30 PM today at the Emporium Building meeting room (Level B2), 100 S. Gay Street. City officials and engineering consultants will be on hand to discuss the project with property and business owners, employees, and residents in the 100 block.

UPDATE: The KNS files this report on the meeting. It sounds like an extensive undertaking, and the finished product should be pretty nice. The City has a web page for the project:

City of Knoxville - Gay Street 100 Block Project

The upcoming construction project will rebuild the support structures, relocate and realign all utilities and replace surface-level streetscape features. While the primary purpose of the construction is to fix old and compromised infrastructure, the project's surface-level design includes cosmetic enhancements like wider sidewalks, street trees, and a sidewalk furnishing zone for features like benches, bike racks, etc. that will significantly improve the aesthetic condition of the block.

Numerous project plans and documents are available at the above link.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

I was told that the last

I was told that the last time a downtown block was closed off for construction like they are going to do on Gay Street, most of the businesses ended up closing. Is that true?

Bill Lyons's picture

The 100 Block rebuild

There was a major rebuild to Gay St. in the eighties and yes, many businesses did fail at that time. The situations and context are very different. This is not elective surgery. The project must be done and must be done soon or we risk major structural failure and a very traumatic situation for all.

This issue was hashed out in great detail in another forum about three weeks ago. I am not sure of the appropriate etiquette in cross board referencing but this issue, along with the reasons for taking the approach the city is taking, is well discussed on the thread below.


Our department (Policy and Communications) has a web page with much summary information on the project. We have had lengthy public process on this for the a number of months.


The meeting tonight went very well, in my opinion, at least. We had a very frank discussion for over 1 1/2 hours, with over 100 people in attendance. We dealt with the schedule, phasing, as well as the design that will be in place after the project is over. Businesses were very well represented and we had lengthy discussions about best to work to meet their needs and overcome the challenges inherent in rebuilding an early twentieth century structure.. a failed bridge supporting sidewalks.. all constructed when Gay St. was raised to allow construction of the viaduct.

Laura's picture

secrets of Gay St.

I'm happy to see that the city is reclaiming it's own unique history. I'll certainly do my part to keep Nama in business!

CathyMcCaughan's picture

The primary concern on that

The primary concern on that thread seems to be the survival of Nama. I worry more about the small businesses. I understand the aging buildings, but I am curious if this project would be done differently if everyone wasn't drooling at the prospect of more real estate below the street.

Pam Strickland's picture

This thread may emphasize

This thread may emphasize Nama, but that is not the overall concern. I've read quite a bit about this in a variety of places, and the possibility of the below ground development is not a factor in the project as far as I can tell. It's a matter of keeping the ground-level in place and functioning longterm.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

Anonymous's picture


Shame on you for posting something positive! You should have posted something negative about this project instead of mentioning Nama more than once! Now look what you've done!

John Spellings's picture

It's necessary, it's

It's necessary, it's important for the long term viability of the community, and it should have everyones full support.

If downtown Knoxville is to thrive then we must be willing to make major infrastructure investments like this and plan for our long term growth.

Who knows maybe we can revive the Underground on the 100 block again.

Write-In Spellings, Write Out Nepotism

Pam Strickland's picture

Mr. Spellings,

This is a city issue. You're running for a county position. You were also commenting on city issues elsewhere --
red-light cameras and the homeless problem in the central city. So, what county issues are you interested in, and have you gathered the necessary signatures to be a write in for county commission. Perhaps I should have started another tread, but this just struck me when I read your post.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

tennesseevaluesauthority's picture

This is a city issue. You're

This is a city issue. You're running for a county position.

Last I checked, the city was still part of the county...

Pam Strickland's picture

The city government has

The city government has control over Gay Street. Someone who wants to be county commissioner needs to make a name for himself on county issues. That's all I'm saying.

It would be the same as Jimmy Duncan running for office by saying that he believes that the state should dip into it's rainy day fund instead of laying off 2,000 people. That's the state legislature's decision, in conjunction with the governor. It's not a congressional decision.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

John Spellings's picture

I appreciate your following

I appreciate your following my comments and giving them your consideration. I recommend you read my blog to understand my stance on the cameras, as I explain how my position on them is important in this race.

Also the repairs of 100 block my be under the purview the city but the resulting increase in property values and sales tax revenues and general viability of the downtown community makes this an issue that a person seeking county office can also voice an opinion on.

Nothing in this county or in the city occurs in a vacuum, which is another glaring example of the failure of our current system.

Write-In Spellings, Write Out Nepotism

Pam Strickland's picture

OK, I get that things are

OK, I get that things are not a vacuum, but I want to hear something material, something significant about County Commission and less about these non-vacuum things. I'm not up for another blog right now, but if you can put something here that indicates to me that you've thought some things out re county commission, I *might* reconsider.

You didn't answer my question about qualifying as a write-in.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

John Spellings's picture

Yes I have filed with the

Yes I have filed with the county as a write-in. My votes will be counted, there is no requirement to get a petition on the write-in side. I would appreciate your consideration, as I do everyones.

Write-In Spellings, Write Out Nepotism

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