Apr 17 2009
09:05 am

Realtor extraordinaire Suzy Trotta sneak peeks Brownlow Lofts. (with photos!)

According to my own information, several units have sold in just the last couple of weeks. Interest seems to be picking up, as the project nears completion.

Hats off to Danny Fielden and the rest of the crew and subcontractors of Cardinal Construction for being such good across the street neighbors during construction. We've enjoyed having your in our neighborhood, and we look forward to folks moving into Brownlow as early as June 1, from what we've heard.

You can see Brownlow Lofts for yourself this Sunday, April 19 during the Fourth and Gill hometour, from 1-6 pm, along with some beautiful Victorian and Craftsman style homes. Tickets are $10. Start at Central United Methodist Church at 201 Third Avenue. Children 12 and under are free.

more here from Matt Edens in MetroPulse.

Factchecker's picture

Must be a heckofa realtor extraordinaire

How does she get $175-200/sq. ft.? If she does, they must not be overpriced. But holy moley! Just sayin'.

rocketsquirrel's picture

compares to downtown lofts @

compares to downtown lofts @ $225-$250 per square foot.

Bill Lyons's picture

A bit of history on this very important project

There is a history here and history is important. No project better underscores the importance of taking the time to set a solid policy framework and following through than does this one. And no project shows the benefits of aggressive use of the city’s power to use Tax Increment Financing than does this one.

This is a solution to a long-standing issue in the community, one that stood without any answer for ten or more years. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that without the policies we have developed that this tremendous improvement to this property would not have ever been possible. We would be looking at a further rotted building that much closer to demolition or fire.

To those who say that “If a project does not work without a TIF it should just not happen,” well the public interest in making this happen is absolutely obvious. Previously the taxes were negligible. Needless to say, the only public financial participation in this is about 70% of taxes that the project will bring in upon consummation of the sales. Not only would the 30% we are getting be absent without the TIF, there would have been expenses to government with expensive calls to the property for police and fire services, among others. The streets and roads and utilities are already there.

A key neighborhood is now much better off, and people will find reasonably priced housing in a great area near downtown. Despite criticism of Cardinal and KPH, they completed the project as they committed to doing, and delivered a quality affordable housing alternative in the core of the city.

Note Betty’s comment in the thread referenced below, which was accurate, in my opinion, about the hostility felt by the neighborhoods nearby toward attention paid to the area by the city. I think any fair minded person can drive, or better yet, walk or bike in the Broadway Central area and see the difference only a year or two has made. In reading the discussion below just project to where we now are. Policy matters, and application of the policy matters. Thanks to council members Frost and Hultquist for their support of the general policy of one-parcel TIFs for such situations in their districts and for all of council, and commission, as I recall, for support of the specific TIF request.

And preservation of discussion such as this is one of the reasons Knoxviews is a tremendous resource. We can gradually learn as a community what works and does not work and what the arguments surrounding decisions are all about.

From Knoxviews thread on Browlow circa 2006. The whole thread is well worth reading. (link...)

A bit more context
Submitted by Bill Lyons on Sun, 2006/09/24 - 11:39pm.

A few other clarifications and a bit more context might be helpful. First, the time period is crucial. No TIFs of this sort are possible anywhere unless the property is in a redevelopment area. That is why a redevelopment area is necessary for the South Knoxville Waterfront project. When David Dewhirst spoke with us very early on in 2004 we quickly eliminated the TIF as a possibility because Brownlow School was not in a redevelopment area but in an historic neighborhood that was not a candidate for such an area. We were very concerned about the development of Brownlow and aware of the development challenges and did offer to pursue a PILOT tax abatement under the CityLife program. This would have allowed him to also pursue historic tax credits while receiving tax abatements. The rules regarding historic tax credits mandate rental rather ownership for a number of years.

This was about the time that problems emerged with the South High property in south Knoxville. We were approached by many people, including many in South Knoxville as well as Knox Heritage, about any role the city could play. We did find some solutions that would help the proposed development but tax abatement just did not seem to fit the situation and the project went on hold. At that time I began to explore the option embedding a solution to this problem in a larger policy – the redevelopment of historic schools that were no longer in use. In most cases the neighborhoods had a great interest in home ownership but the schools presented tremendous challenges to any potential developer.

The area around South High likewise did not seem to be good for a redevelopment area any more than did that around Brownlow. Our template for redevelopment areas was certainly broader than just one structure. At that time we became convinced that it was in the neighborhood’s interest, and certainly in the city’s interest, to see if we could pursue one-parcel redevelopment area under a program specifically tailored for helping abandoned historic schools. We checked this with the appropriate lawyers and were told it was indeed acceptable under the applicable state laws and regulations. We envisioned a program geared to restoring historic school buildings – all producing no property taxes at all - for home ownership. While South High was our first concern we also recognized the applicability to Brownlow and perhaps to others. We discussed this concept with council members Frost and Hultquist and both thought it was a very good idea. I communicated this policy to council in early 2005. We received very favorable reaction.

Of course the first step in such a process is for council to request that a redevelopment area allowing TIFs be drawn up for a school property in question. That only allows a TIF. It does not guarantee one at all. A separate application for a TIF must be made, with financials, development plans, etc. and the plan and TIF must be then recommended to council, who must vote to approve the specific TIF. Our main impetus in doing this was to find a solution for South High School, but we were aware that it could be helpful to Brownlow.

We later became aware that the property had changed hands and of community meetings between Cardinal and the 4th and Gill neighborhood folks. We were told of the neighborhood’s interest in the development of the school into condominiums rather than rental units. At that time we suggested that it might be a good time to set the wheels in motion to prepare a one parcel redevelopment plan as we had envisioned under the new policy.

At present nothing has been done past the initial request to KCDC. They have not yet prepared the redevelopment plan Hence there is not yet any legal basis for a TIF, has been no application for a TIF, no recommendation to council for a TIF, and certainly no council vote creating one. We do not “offer TIF’s” to one party and not to another. We can only explain the tools at the city’s disposal, the criteria for assistance, and suggest that folks apply if they think they qualify. We would have loved to have been able to have worked toward a TIF in addition to exploring a PILOT for Brownlow with David Dewhirst but our discussions took place way before the chain of events started in regard to South High that led us to create the policy for historic schools. We would love to see Brownlow School rehabilitated. We also think it was the right thing to do to put a program in place to help rehabilitate old historic schools and to encourage home ownership in the affected neighborhoods.

4th and Gill Neighbor's picture


I am really glad it happened. It would not have happened if a few of our loudmouthed negative neighbors had their way. Thankfully most of us saw what the city was doing with Brownlow and showed up to support them in the first creative thing they have done in a long time. I would like to hear from Betty now that this is almost done. Personally we have gotten more attention from Bill Haslam in our area of town than I ever ever believed would happen. I would never expect any credit to him from McDaniel. And McDaniel, will you please just leave it alone already on Minvilla and that Ray Abbas works for the Salvation Army. The shame of it all. Working to help people in a social service agency.

citizenX's picture

Getting a little personal?

Getting a little personal in our attacks aren't we Mr. 4th and Gill Neighbor? Mr. McDaniel simply mentioned the near completion of the Brownlow Lofts and you branch off onto defending Mayor Haslam and Ray Abbas as if they were somehow being attacked in the information provided by Rocketsquirrell.

You're a hitting a little below the belt, aren't you?

And, to compare the Minvilla "project" with the Brownlow Lofts is a bit of a stretch, isn't it? The Lofts at Brownlow will be owner occupied and those owners will be subject to property tax. Not so with the Minvilla. I also doubt if there is more than seven million tax payer dollars tied up in the Brownlow Lofts. Correct me if I am wrong?

Sounds as if someone named Betty and Mr. McDaniel are not two of your favorite people....but, clearly, Mayor Haslam and Ray Abbas are. I do agree with you on one point, "THE SHAME OF IT ALL." If Mr. Abbas has a position on the Minvilla or the homeless industry in our community he has yet to state it. If he is elected EXACTLY what does he plan to do about the ever growing problem facing the business community and the neighborhoods in North Knoxville? A fair question for a candidate, don't you agree? And keep in mind, you brought Ray into this discussion not Rocketsquirrell.

jah's picture

Really mindboggling, I guess

The last time I was in Brownlow was ten or eleven years ago, and I'm having trouble imagining those rooms then looking so nice now. And I am psyched to see it finally happening!

Factchecker's picture

Knox 2009

Didn't mean to dis the project. I can't believe downtown prices either, but I thought this market would at least flatten things a bit. There are a lot of free standing homes that have been on the market a long time. That means glut and overpricing. But, again, if lofts sell, that means they're wanted.

4th and Gill neighbor's picture

It is totally wrong to trash

It is totally wrong to trash Abbas because he works for the Salvation Army. It helps people, period. Your attitude is caustic. I feel sorry for you, but you don't in any way speak for our neighborhood.

Jameson's picture

McDaniel manages to ruin any

McDaniel manages to ruin any talking we do in 4th and Gill. He damn near ruined the Brownlow project.

Up Goose Creek's picture


Are the units $175 - $250/ sq. ft. or did Ms Trotta get her arithmetic wrong? Because that doesn't fit my definition of affordable. I'm not complaining or anything because there is plenty of affordable housing a few blocks away.

I'm glad to see the project be successful.

"Capitalism will never fail because socialism will always be there to bail it out." --Ralph Nader

Up Goose Creek's picture


I think I answered my own question, he lofts are (relatively) affordable because they are small. I liked that some of the units had doors so you could have outdoor space along with your loft. That is a rare combination.

South facing, too. Good place to soak up the winter rays. Just need some shade trees for summer.

"Capitalism will never fail because socialism will always be there to bail it out." --Ralph Nader

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