Jul 17 2006
05:35 pm

So what did we learn from young Master Mollenhour at the community meeting on July 13? Not much really. In his defense, he was only given 10 minutes on the agenda and he spent over half of that informing us what he wouldn't be able to tell us this time but would be able to tell us in three weeks. We did get to meet his Daddy, though. He's real proud of Junior. He, too, lives in the neighborhood. He was the only one in the room to raise his hand when a community member at the meeting took a straw poll to see if anyone in the room of over 100 wanted this thing. Pop reminded us that sonnyboy Jordan, whilst growing up, probably mowed many of our lawns. And many of us might remember young Jordan when he worked at the Garden Fresh Market on Chapman. And did we know that Jordan was responsible for building the nice yellow and green shelves at the market? Yes, the very ones. But I digress.

What we learned was that Mollenhour Homes has a contract on the 14.5 acres that run along Magazine, Sarvis, Cilla and Mapleloop. They wil be seeking to have the area rezoned from R1 to RP1. My understanding of the significance of the zoning change, gleaned from others in the room, is that RP1 would allow condos and apartments, whereas R1 would not. I have to check on this because I want to know the minutia. With rezoning in place, Mollenhour's plan would be to build 20 to 30 single family, detached homes and 30 to 40 townhouse style condos. He stressed to the community that the purpose behind the attached style housing would be to preserve as much green space as possible. I'm sure it has nothing to do with cramming-as-many-units-in-as-small-a-space-as-possible-to-get-the-most-money-you-can-with-the-least-amount-of-regard-for-the-integrity-of-the neighborhood-and-the-people-and-animals-and-woods-that-live-there. No, not our native son. The size of the units would range from 1400 - 2000 sq ft. They would be sold starting at $150,000 and go up to $250,000. Now if you know anything about Colonial Village, you know that there are very few homes there that would sell for $250,000. In fact, I'm not sure if there are any. I live on one of the nicest streets in the Village. Houses around me have recently sold in the range of $100-$135,000. Jordan Mollenhour blabbed on about how his planned development could only increase the property value of the houses around it as if this would draw a collective sigh of relief, thumbs-up, goodnight we can go home now response. While this may have titillated a few, many of the folks in the room - and a lot of them heading toward or already in their retirement years - are not that interested in increasing property values, because we'd rather have our neighborhood as it is and we're not planning on selling. I think its fair to say that many of us plan to leave this neighborhood not in the mover's truck, but in the mortician's. And as for increasing property values, well along with that comes increasing property taxes. And that's a whole nother story.

Now after Jordon finished his spiel, he took questions from the floor for about 20 min. I don't want to go into all of the "she asked" "he said," because I can't remember it all and I don't want to type that long and he basically deferred most of his answers for the followup meeting. But basically people are concerned about the rezoning that would allow condos and whatnot; the historical flooding and drainage issues related to the property; the unwielding sinkholes found there; the capacity of the elementary school to take in more kids; and the nightmare traffic that would happen on Magazine/Stone Rd.

And what about the trees? I managed to get the first question asked and that was my question. Jordan Mullenhour replied that it was in their best interest to preserve as many trees as possible because trees are very expensive to remove and replant. And this was his first certifiable lie. If you want to see what Mollenhour Homes thinks about trees, just drive over to his current project under development "Colonial Estates." Its on Sevierville Pk. Take Lindy (the road behind Kay's Ice Cream on Chapman); follow it to Seveirvill Pk; turn left and there is will be on your left. You'll recognize it by the 10 or so cookie cutter houses that look exactly freakin alike. And there is not one damn tree within the development.

Next up, I'll post some pictures and tell you about a conversation I had with a woman who lives on Centeroak across the street from the new and under development Colonial Estates. Its an earful, but not at all surprising.

For background on this story, see my first post.


Opinari's picture

Thanks for the update...

This comment made me laugh out loud - "They would be sold starting at $150,000 and go up to $250,000." Is this guy serious?

rikki's picture


I would suspect there is a reason why that chunk of land has not already been built on. I'm not sure whether disturbing a sinkhole requires an Aquatic Resources Alteration Permit, but TDEC could answer that. There was a state law passed in the wake of the Burnett Creek mess that prohibits dumping in sinkholes, and if he is planning to bury the ones on that acreage with fill dirt, he may no longer be allowed to do that.

As far as the trees go, the city tree ordinance has some fairly tame restrictions on how many trees can be cut within a year. It's only a $50 fine for a violation, but it's probably harder to get zoning changes and such if the developer is not respecting the law.

Is there really a demand for that much housing in that area? The prices he is talking about certainly seem out of proportion to the neighborhood, particularly given the planned density. 

Anonymous's picture

the price of new construction

the price of new construction...

before you think "who would pay" consider that Clayton Homes is selling 1500 square foot modular homes in the Boyds Creek area of South Knoxville for $150-160K.

That is $100 per square foot. Whether or not this developer does good quality design, workmanship, etc, keep in mind that people are paying those prices in south Knoxville. And that's only a mortgage of $950 per month, plus taxes and insurance.

Also, the condos or patio homes known as Woodlawn Park on Woodlawn Pike, closer in than Colonial Village, start in the $160s. And I think they are all sold. Come on, folks, property values are up. Older homes in Colonial Village have sold in the 120-140k range. I understand defense of the urban forest. I also think there is demand for this type of property.

All development is not bad, but bad developments are just that. It's usually about good design, which unfortunately, most developers in this part of the state don't value. Just punch up the density and throw some brick on the front to counterbalance the vinyl on the other three sides. That is bad development. But people around here buy it anyway, paying in excess of $100 per sf.

Go figure.

infostat's picture

Tree ordinance and sinkholes

Well, I spoke to TDEC and also checked out the tree ordinance. Mark at TDEC gave me a list of other people to talk to about watershed and sinkholes and answered several procedural questions. The city aborist is on vacation. When he returns, I'll find out about restrictions on taking out trees. Also looked into arborist requirements for replanting.

Anonymous's picture

Are you kidding?

What do you mean not a freak’ in tree left in the "Colonial Estates" development? It looks like mass majority of the trees that run up to Centeroak are still there. Do you even know how wooded the main body of the development was before he started? Take a look at an aerial picture of the site in 2002 from the Knoxville GIS service. You can see the roads overlaid with it by going to (link...) Accept the terms of the site saying that basically say you won't stalk, solicit, use the information for evil (since lets you see who owns any property in Knox county, what there current address is, and how much they paid for it). Select "search" -> "search by address". I used 809 Lindy Drive, since it is right at the corner of the development. To get the color aerial overlay you have to click "layer" and check the box by "Aerial Photo" then hit the "refresh map" button. (Sorry this isn't as direct as including a link, but KGIS doesn't allow direct links to a search result). Well, any way it looks like most of the main development was treeless as off 2002.

In fact if you look at the pictures for 815 Colonial Estates Way (link...)
and use the trees in the background to match to the trees in the aerial photos from the KGIS site the trees in the middle of the development are still there. In his development of Pleasant Ridge Rd on Pinex Lane he left two big'ol trees right smack in the middle of the neighborhood. Those two trees shade four houses. Take a look at this the color images "Urban Areas" is from 2002, the black and white pictures are from 1997 (link...)
I'm impressed with how few trees were cut. By the way he was 16 in 1997 so I'm pretty sure the mess in the 1997 aerial photos was not his doing.

He has cut down some trees. But in far greater moderation than what I've seen near my grandfathers' home off Tazewell Pike where every tree that was on the edge of the field or part of a fence row is razed for a development and now 5 years later there isn't a single home that isn't in the old field i.e. none of the trees should have been cut.

Give "master" Mollenhour a break. He has way more respect for the community and the trees than any one else is going to have or has had recently.

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