Sep 20 2006
06:47 pm

Sources tell us that meetings and discussions are underway with a Missouri developer regarding a "four-star, 250 plus room hotel" to be constructed on the Worlds Fair site in the vicinity of the Clinch Street Viaduct, possibly at the site of the "Waters of the World" area near the Sunsphere.

According to documents (PDF format) obtained by KnoxViews, elements of the proposed development include:

  • A 500 Space parking garage with 300 parking spaces reserved for the convention center and 200 parking spaces for the hotel.
  • A four-star, 250-plus-room hotel that will be constructed on the air rights over the garage.
  • Renovation and use of the Sunsphere for food and beverage services as part of the hotel development.
  • Lease of Convention Center space to the hotel for meetings and events.
  • Possible availability of Tax Increment Financing.
  • The hotel development may be an integral part of the World's Fair Park, University of Tennessee, Downtown Redevelopment, and the Convention Center.

    The developer states that he has "experienced all kinds of situations on our various hotel developments in over 40 states." He also states that he "must negotiate a fair approach to both the city and ourselves."

    There is some question as to who would build the parking garage. Sources tell us there may be an expectation that the city would provide some or all of the funding for this, but this is not confirmed.


  • Bbeanster's picture

    Hmmm My sources say that

    My sources say that none other than Brian Hornback and Harry Sherrod have been making the rounds, talking up just such a project.

    R. Neal's picture

    Brian Hornback, eh? Hmmm....

    Hmmm.... Brian Hornback, eh? He's a player now? Could have fooled me.

    Number9's picture

    My sources say that none

    My sources say that none other than Brian Hornback and Harry Sherrod have been making the rounds, talking up just such a project.

    Well, it is more feasible than the Midway Industrial Park...

    Old Hickory's picture

    City Taxpayers Get Played for Fools Time and Time Again

    They are aready paying an insane amount of money to keep the Knoxville Convention Center afloat, with no appreciable nor steady convention business, downtown Knoxville cannot support an additional hotel. The city taxpayers are already throwing millions at the Tourism and Sports Corporation, the women's basketball hall of fame, the sunsphere, and market square mall.

    tennesseevaluesauthority's picture

    I'm intrigued, because I

    I'm intrigued, because I don't think this is the same project I've been hearing about.

    Toad In The Hole's picture

    City Has Some Legal Restraints Preventing It From Participating

    Last time I checked, the city voters passed an ordinance at the ballot that restricts the city from participating in the development of a convention center hotel, located in downtown.

    R. Neal's picture

    the city voters passed an

    the city voters passed an ordinance at the ballot that restricts the city from participating in the development of a convention center hotel

    Yeah, I was wondering about that. I was also wondering if the Missouri developer knows about that?

    But what the hey. Maybe the plan is to get Jimmy Duncan to get some of that Free Federal Transpiration Funding for the project. Maybe it would be a nice place for a bus terminal/convention hotel parking garage/bowling alley/discovery center?

    Brian A.'s picture

    If we build it, will they come?

    Or, more pointedly, do bowlers generally stay at four-star hotels? 

    Brian A.
    I'd rather be cycling.

    Up Goose Creek's picture


    Well I hate to say it but the ampitheater site might work for that. You could put a train station in the basement and hook it up to the SWF and the airport.

    Hey, I oculd hop on the train and go to Tai Chi class at the candy factory.... no wait, tai chi isn't at the candy factory anymore. Well I could go to Fort Kid and the Art Museum and The Water Fountain.

    rikki's picture

    Holy shit. They capitalized

    Holy shit. They capitalized "downtown redevelopment." I can't even bring myself to do it.

    And the guy's signature looks like the bats Hunter Thompson saw on the way to Vegas. KnoxVegas, baby. 

    Anonymous's picture

    Convention center Hotel

    Boy does this smell like the county... When will folks realize our convention center is dead... they should have been booking conventions prior to the center being finished... any good size group is planning convention 3 to 4 years out...

    When Sevierville opens theirs we might as well turn out the light and board up the windows...

    No wait it would be a great new downtown library and discovery center for the children

    JaHu's picture

    "Boy does this smell like

    "Boy does this smell like the county... When will folks realize our convention center is dead... they should have been booking conventions prior to the center being finished... any good size group is planning convention 3 to 4 years out..."

    Didn't the developers, or city, do a fesability study before they built the center? If they did, does anyone know if there were many inquiries into possible bookings, or did they really build it with the notion that if they build it they will come, attitude?

    JaHu's picture

    I think we should try to

    I think we should try to declare Knoxville, not as a city, but as a Reservation, a Hillbilly Reservation, and set up our own Harrahs. We could then, really call the city Knoxvegas. We are percieved by the rest of the country (as the natives used to be wrongfully percieved), as inbread savages, so we probably want run into any opposition from the rest of the country for our change in status.

    Number9's picture

    There is no shortage of optimists in this town

    There is no shortage of optimists in this town. There is nothing in their eyes that cannot be achieved with taxpayer dollars. We need some pragmatists and we need them now.

    It appears that there is a drug like addictive quality to TIFs. Knoxville needs to detox.

    We have to get a handle on the TIF problem. If every project must have a TIF then taxes must go up.

    The whole idea behind development and growth is that taxes either go down or stay stable.

    The current potential TIF list:

    McClung Warehouses -8 million

    South Knox Waterfront -50 million?, 80 million?, don't ask

    This crazy idea, the second new downtown hotel for the Convention Center -50 million?, 70 million?

    Projects from Dewhirst we don't know about yet -don't ask

    The downtown movie theater -3 million, no 5 million, no 10 million, don't ask

    Already approved TIF's:

    Candy Factory -8 million

    Northshore Town Center -3 million

    Glove Factory condos (?)

    Drake's picture

    Maybe this is what Edwards

    Maybe this is what Edwards and his lackey from the chamber were talking about yesterday when they said the laid off KC employees would be reabsorbed into the workplace downtown. After all someone will have to build the hotel, clean the rooms, and so forth. If nothing else the displaced workers can stay in the room...for a small(large)fee of course.

    TPTB's picture

    the county. . .

    is involved too. Rounds have been made to commissioners. The idea is the garage will be a joint venture between the two gubmints. The county would probably be in more financially than the city.

    Toad In The Hole's picture

    Too Many Construction Folks Looking For Easy Money

    I don't think these folks found Knoxville, in my opinion, I think Harry Sherrod and Atlas Electric are looking for an easy project to build and with the city knocked out of the development business for a downtown hotel, the next logal group of folk susceptible would be the county. In my opinion, Ragsdale owes Harry Sherrod and he expects his favors to be granted.

    Tiny Tim's picture

    JQSimmons has a number of Embassy Suites They Operate

    Not exactly what I would refer to as a 4 star hotel.

    But hey, they can't operate a downtown Hampton, Patel already got that one up and running and Peyton Manning's Cumberland House over on 11th Street is doing nicely through the early part of the football season.

    Number9's picture

    When will the KNS cover it?

    This is a big local story. When will the KNS cover it? Will the Mayor of Knoxville write an editorial telling the people why Knoxville must have this Hotel? Will it "save" the Convention Center?

    Let's review where taxpayer money should be "invested":

    Midway Industrial Park

    Northshore Town Center

    South Knox Waterfront

    "New second attempt" downtown Hotel for the Convention Center

    Blount County Business Park

    Let's review where taxpayer money should NOT be "invested":

    Knox County Schools

    Pension Plan for Sheriff's Department employees

    What is the role of government? Don't we have this exactly backwards?

    Number9's picture

    WATE uses KnoxViews for show prep

    Must be tough to be scooped by a blog...


    While the city says it has no plans to cooperate, the private developers are seeking support from within.

    "A couple of weeks ago, I was called and had a meeting with Mr. Sherrod," says city councilman Robert Frost.

    He says local businessman Harry Sherrod gave him a proposal outlining the development of the four-star hotel.

    At first glance, Frost says the proposal looks good.

    John Q. Hammons Hotels and Resorts, based out of Missouri, would build the 250-room facility.

    The proposal even suggests using the Sunsphere for hotel dining services.

    Frost says it could be a moneymaker for the city. "The convention center is under-utilized. We have it and we need to make the best of it."

    But Frost says it won't happen at the expense of violating the 2004 hotel referendum, which prohibits the city from spending tax dollars on a convention center hotel.

    "We must make sure if this is going anywhere, that it's good for the citizens, it's good for the city government and it complies with the referendum that was passed, pure and simple!" Frost says.

    6 News contacted the mayor's office. Officials say they're aware of the interest, but they haven't issued a request for proposals and they're not even considering it.

    So will a TIF be considered as a violation of the citizen referendum? Stay tuned...

    Toad In The Hole's picture

    Where's Franklin Haney When You Really Need Him?

    By god, if franklin haney were still patrolling henley street, none of this stuff would have happened.

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