Fri
Jul 7 2006
11:51 am

This may not be news to some readers, but the Chattanooga firm of Kennedy, Coulter, Rushing & Watson LLC has been hired to "redesign" the Cumberland Avenue corridor.

R. Neal's picture

Sounds like the usual

Sounds like the usual suspects. Thanks for the link. There was something about this here earlier when they put out the RFP:

(link...)

Brian A.'s picture

Sorry, missed the earlier post

I don't follow these kind of things like some of the insiders here do. 

Brian A.
I'd rather be cycling.

R. Neal's picture

But yours is new (and very

But yours is new (and very interesting) info. Thanks again.

Number9's picture

Why are local Architects and

Why are local Architects and Planners not getting local work?

Factchecker's picture

I'm a little relieved

Why are local Architects and Planners not getting local work?

Maybe they rightly decided they didn't want the results to look like virtually every other development in Knox-burg.  Maybe Chattanoogans other than K-P, or developers from ANYWHERE ELSE might have an actual sense of aesthetic.  We visited Cincinnati last weekend, and once again realized how butt-ugly K-town development is!  We even saw actual trees in commercial areas!  

bizgrrl's picture

Ack! Another Ann Coulter!

Ack! Another Ann Coulter!

Factchecker's picture

Maybe like Carville

Ack! Another Ann Coulter!

You mean Kennedy and Coulter together!  Maybe like Carville and Cruella whats-her-name.  (Oh yeah, I guess that remark balances out everything Coulter has ever said.) Wink

Rachel's picture

Kennedy, Coulter

Kennedy, Coulter (specifically Ann Coulter & Stroud Watson) are working on the southwaterfront - and doing a very nice job, I might add.

I really didn't want a local firm to get the southwaterfront work - for one thing, there would suspicion of "good old boy" network influence, no matter how good the work was. For another, sometimes it's good to have fresh eyes and no preconceived prejudices.  And finally, although there are some exceptions, not many of our local architects/planners are up to a job of that scope with the level of expertise, imagination, etc. required.

Perhaps the same dynamic is underway with this selection.  I haven't followed it closely, so I don't know.  But I would expect good work from this team.

 And pity this Ann Coulter - she's a very nice person, with an impressive professional resume.  Imagine having to walk around with that name!

Number9's picture

And finally, although there

And finally, although there are some exceptions, not many of our local architects/planners are up to a job of that scope with the level of expertise, imagination, etc. required.

I couldn't disagree more.

First it is a good ole boy society it is just a different one. This new idea we have to go outside Knoxville because "we not worthy" is crap and it is an insult to the many brilliant architects and planners in Knoxville.

What the Coulter Kennedy gang is really selling is a process more than aesthetic design. As written about below it is about condos and TIF's. It is about changing the clientele from college kids to trendy loft rats. So where will the college kids live? Screw em who cares. Should have seen this coming when I learned of the 100 million dollar redo for Neyland Stadium.

I can't find it but I recall a study about condo dwellers being less happy than homeowners. Condo dwellers are the perfect political constituency. Since they don't have yards they need parks and can easily be bribed for their votes.

Condos are not the salvation of Knoxville. In fact twenty years from now we will regret the very foolish New Urbanism fad that this administration is addicted to.

The fact that Jimmy Duncan is always available to pony up some Federal dough to make these dumbass ideas work has me wondering about him.

What is the current TIF balance for Knoxville?

From an earlier thread by R. Neal:

The City of Knoxville is starting to sound like a one-trick pony. When in doubt, build some condos. Trust us, condos will solve all your problems.

The City reckons this is the fastest and easiest way to stimulate investment in these areas and the best way to generate funding for the projects (TIF-for-tat and all that). And that may be. And the trendy loft set, having drunk the "new urbanist" kool-aid, are active and vocal participants in "the process" supporting this type of development. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The fundamental economic equation at work on Cumberland Ave. seems to be that college students don't have any money. At least not for anything but beer, and an occasional pizza. So it will be interesting to see what kind of plan they come up with. Whatever it is, it will probably have lots of condos. And a bike trail. And a "museum/discovery center." Not that there's anything wrong with that.

And the "transportation" elements of the project guarantee some Free Federal Funding™ courtesy of Congressman Jimmy Duncan (who sits on the Transportation Committee), assuming he can keep going back to the well after the funding he already secured for the downtown luxury bus station.

Michael's picture

I can't find it but I recall

I can't find it but I recall a study about condo dwellers being less happy than homeowners. Condo dwellers are the perfect political constituency. Since they don't have yards they need parks and can easily be bribed for their votes.

Thank you so much for your compassion.  At least you understand. It's just so depressing.  One of the first things I noticed after being duped into moving was the absence of a yard.  Oh, how I miss the mowing, the weeding, and the insect infestations that I left behind. 

But really, when you consider all of the windfall from bribery, it's not so bad.  And  at least we have parks, unlike the burbs where there's no place to play softball.

~m. 

Rachel's picture

I wrote (wrt to the south

I wrote (wrt to the south waterfront:) And finally, although there are some exceptions, not many of our local architects/planners are up to a job of that scope with the level of expertise, imagination, etc. required.

The digit replied:  I couldn't disagree more.

First it is a good ole boy society it is just a different one. This new idea we have to go outside Knoxville because "we not worthy" is crap and it is an insult to the many brilliant architects and planners in Knoxville.

I shouldn't bother with this, but it's Friday afternoon & I'm bored.  So...

My first response is please name the "brilliant" architects and "brilliant" planners in Knoxville with the resources necessary to handle an effort the size and scope of the south waterfront project.  (And quick, what was the list of deliverables in the RFP?  No fair peeking at the website.)

My second response is to point out that most (if not all) of the firms who bid on the effort had local firms as partners (including Hargreaves).

My third response is to point out that I'm not the only person with this opinion.  For example, a young architect who lives in south Knoxville who might even be brilliant and who had no particular dog in the fight spent quite some time at a neighborhood meeting explaining that no Knoxville firms were up leading the south waterfront effort.  That doesn't mean that there are no good architects or planners in Knoxville.  Quite the contrary.  It only means that this project required more than our local firms can offer on their own.

My final response is to muse that if a local firm had gotten the lead on the south waterfront contract, you'd have been the first one crying "good ole boy" foul.

What the Coulter Kennedy gang is really selling is a process more than aesthetic design.

Well, you finally said something I (mostly) agree with (at least wrt the south waterfront).  And if you don't understand why process was so critically important to this effort, then there's no point talking with you.

And stop calling reputable firms "gangs" etc.  It's really unbecoming, and does nothing to sell your arguments.

Number9's picture

My final response is to muse

My final response is to muse that if a local firm had gotten the lead on the south waterfront contract, you'd have been the first one crying "good ole boy" foul.

I was pulling for the local group on the South Knox Waterfront project. I knew they didn't stand a chance since they had been scapegoated on the Coster Shop debacle which I and others feel the City was responsbile for. I didn't cry foul either way.

As far as TIF's are concerned I have lost some enthusiasm for them. I do see they are needed for the South Knox Waterfront. I just want to know what the TIF total is and how it compares to the total City budget, what years the TIF's expire, and how much TIF's can the City safely carry? This "one trick pony" concept has become redundant.

You talk so much about creativity. Why is everything everywhere condos? What is so creative about that? Do you know what I think would sell, what would be creative? Brand new Fourth and Gill type neighborhoods with sidewalks and stores. Ironically there is one being built, in West Knox County. No TIF's and very few condos.

I would much rather see developments with the lot sizes of Fourth and Gill than I would see condos. Yet we don't see that do we? A certain level of condos is fine, but aren't we over doing it?

Of course in buildings you don't have a choice and it has to be condos or offices. But how can anyone justify the inequality in the pricing? I know it is unoccupied space but there is no affordable housing in these new lofts and condos. So isn't it government funded gentrification anyway?

Isn't this more about who makes the money and how much money can be made? You make more money with TIF financed condos and that is why the "one trick pony" is so popular. Add government money and it is too good to be true. Kennedy and Coulter sell financing. Anyone can do what they do. It is about money not creativity.

edens's picture

>Brand new Fourth and Gill

>Brand new Fourth and Gill type neighborhoods with sidewalks and >stores.

Just please don't give us any of that damned "New Urbanism", eh?

>Ironically there is one being built, in West Knox County. No TIF's >and very few condos.

Well, I'll give you the TIFs, but please note:

(link...)

Final build out calls for 120 freestanding homes, 150 townhomes and 400 apartments and condos.

Oh and there are apparently also plans for another 120 townhomes across Northshore.

>I would much rather see developments with the lot sizes of Fourth and >Gill than I would see condos. Yet we don't see that do we?

Perhaps if you looked a little closer, you'd realize that both the South Waterfront and the Strip are immediately adjacent to neighborhoods with lot sizes and homes quite similar to 4th and Gill What the South waterfront and Cumberland avenue are largely doing is introducing (or, in some cases, reintroducing) a piece of urban fabric that has been largely missing - the transition area of midrise mixed use development between downtown and what were originally single family neighborhoods. Some of that fabric already exists along Sevier and Cumberland - although, along Cumberland, a good bit was also demolished to make way for lower density commercial development and surface parking (funny how all that additional parking did little to stop the strip's decline, no?)

Recapturing some of that density (mimicing, in some aspects, the way the gradient works out in Northshore town center) in my opinion, will help areas like Old Sevier and the Fort(although it may be too late in the fort's case) regain some of their viability/desirabilty as single-family residential. Otherwise, both neighborhoods will likely be wiped out, those small lots consolidated and midrise condos built on their ruins (a trend that is already established, to various degrees, in both areas...)

Redeveloping the strip as a denser, more urban environment will probably help it compete with downtown, too (those of you who think college kids don't spend money should hang around the pres pub, downtown brewery and Sapphire after 11 pm...)

Number9's picture

Well, I'll give you the

Well, I'll give you the TIFs,

I have no problem if people don't mind sharing a few walls, floor, or ceiling with neighbors. I did it for a long time. If you want to forgo mowing the lawn and you don't mind listening to your neighbors music go for it. I prefer a single family home. You prefer a townhouse.

Density for density's sake doesn't always make sense. I object to government dollars being used to increase density just to make profit for favored developers. At least the Northshore Town Center developers are doing it on their own dime.

The myth of New Urbanism is that people will abandon or rarely use their cars. It is a myth, at least in Knoxville. The problem we will have is too many cars on too few roads. Just like we have now but worse.

For density to work there has to be a mass transit component. We will not have that and all we are doing is turning Knoxville into Atlanta, fouling the air, creating endless road construction, and reducing the quality of life. No one ever listens to MPC. They just keep approving more development.

Has more density ever reduced sprawl? How can that work if people keep driving their cars?

edens's picture

Oh, fuck, why do I even

Oh, fuck, why do I even bother?

Nice redirect, though, dodging the fact that your characterization of Northshore Town Center as having "few condos" flies in face of reality (unless you somehow consider a 5/1 ration of multiple to single units "few...")

And speaking of the "myth of New Urbanism," contrary to your muddleheaded notions, Northshore Town Center is textbook New Urbanism.

As for "listening to MPC" let me quote MPC's own sector plan:

(link...)

Mixed Use Districts And Corridors

Two types of mixed-use areas are proposed.

* Mixed use districts, including downtown and Cumberland Avenue, where ground level-retail, upper-story apartments and offices and governmental and cultural uses are appropriate.
* Mixed use corridors, including portions of Magnolia Avenue and Broadway, where ground-level retail or office uses with upper-story apartments, and separate office or apartment buildings are appropriate.
* Design standards should be created for each district.

Of course, they say "apartments" as opposed to condos, so I suppose you'll nitpick the shit out of that...

Number9's picture

Of course, they say

Of course, they say "apartments" as opposed to condos, so I suppose you'll nitpick the shit out of that...

No, I see no difference in this setting. But the number is higher than remembered. Morning and evening rush hour will not be pleasant.

And speaking of the "myth of New Urbanism," contrary to your muddleheaded notions, Northshore Town Center is textbook New Urbanism.

I don't think so. Is there a parking space for every unit? New Urbanism is about the fiction of getting away from what Mr. Gore refers to as the greatest threat to our world, the internal combustion engine. I am being serial.

If any planning was being used there would be a calculation of what the road system could bear and the density would be adjusted to that. The school system, the water system, and the sewer system should also be included.

But Nooo... we just redo the roads, water, sewer, and school systems every fifteen years and pass the cost on to the complacent taxpayers who haven't figured out they are being screwed. That is the cost of not paying attention.

The problem is you soon run out of right of way. When you reach maximum build out it is to late and your community has become Atlanta. There was planning to create the Atlanta metro-sprawl, it was just comprised and corrupted. Remind you of local government? We live in a place where the developer is almost always right. In the short term.

No problem, people will just flee to Blount County.

edens's picture

I wasn't aware that, between

>I don't think so.

Think whatever you want. But, really, rather than argue with me whether or not Northsore Town Center is New Urbanism, perhaps you ought to take it up with the developer:

(link...)

In the past, James Doran Company has focused on grocery-anchored and power-center developments...Now as a major developer in the mixed use town center arena...Our mixed-use developments truly enhance the communities in which they are located, creating a desirable "main street" within the neighborhood. The neo-traditional developments take advantage of the synergy and on-site activity provided by a diverse tenant mix of both retail and office uses. This, in combination with a practical, functional, retail-friendly design along with the pedestrian friendliness, streetscapes, intimate spaces, and convenient work environments, helps to define the best of "new urbanism".

Number9's picture

This, in combination with a

This, in combination with a practical, functional, retail-friendly design along with the pedestrian friendliness, streetscapes, intimate spaces, and convenient work environments, helps to define the best of "new urbanism".

Sounds more like "walkable communities" than true "new urbanism". I support "walkable communities" but true "new urbanism" is a socialist fantasy.

From (link...)

"Giving more people more choices about how and where they want to live, while providing solutions to global warming, climate change, and peak oil"

Sounds little Kunstlerish to me. If we will just walk to work and school we can save the planet.

(link...)

(link...)

Why can't you just admit that the "enemy" of Kunstler's little cult is the automobile? "L. Ron" Kunstler is just as kooky as L. Ron Hubbard.

People should live in concrete cities and cows should live on farms.

Of course my local favorite anti-Kunsler rant:

(link...)

BBQ Man's picture

Who is this number 9 anyway.

Who is this number 9 anyway. You make an ass of yourself and have no shame. The planning firms for South Knox Water and for Cumberland are not good old boys but are nationally recognized firms with no damn connections to Knoxville. You and your other nasty friends were wrong on everything about the red light camera timing and accused them of putting up a trap where they dont even have a camera. Dont you have any obligation to get anything right before you toss the garbage around. We have needed Cumberland looked at for a long time.

Number9's picture

You make an ass of yourself

You make an ass of yourself and have no shame. The planning firms for South Knox Water and for Cumberland are not good old boys but are nationally recognized firms with no damn connections to Knoxville. You and your other nasty friends were wrong on everything about the red light camera timing and accused them of putting up a trap where they don't even have a camera

Mr. BBQ Man(not verified),

I have no friends. I have no shame. If you really want to know who I am look on the left hand side and start reading. The usual suspects are getting rich off of this TIF/New Urbanism racket.

Perhaps you can explain why this is good for the taxpayers, the developers, architects, and planners that are not part of this racket, the people that buy these overpriced condos, and the people that cannot afford to live downtown. I would like to hear your perspective.

We have needed Cumberland looked at for a long time.

Who is "we"? I always thought "we" meant "we the people", not "we the usual suspects".

Based on the return on investment the City has received from the Market Square redevelopment I am not sure you are correct. But at least we are using a different Chattanooga developer. Maybe we will hit pay-dirt this time. Apparently our local firms are just not smart enough to figure these complex issues out.

Why not sign in and register? You would be welcome to join the conversation.

edens's picture

Oh, lordy, you'd better warn

Oh, lordy, you'd better warn the folks at the Doran Company before they fall into the clutches of a sinister socialist plot.

As for (link...) - sounds like some smart-growth non-profit in Northern Virginia lucked up when they registered their domain name - tough to say, since the site doesn't really say who they are.

If you actually want to learn a little about New Urbanism, you might want to try the actual new urbanists:

(link...)

Oh, you might be interested to know that CNU's President, former Milwauke mayor John Norquist, filed an amicus brief in Kelo vs. New London - in support of Sussette Kelo:

(link...)

But, by all means, cling to your commie plot fantasy.

We've been down the New Urbanism=Kunstler path before, haven't we? Unlike the planners, architects and develoers who are actually building large numbers of New Urbanist developments across the country (you can find samples here: (link...)) Kunstler, as the wikipededia bio notes is a journalist and novelist (not a particularly good one, either, judging by few pages of his latest I skimmed at Borders awhile back...). He also actually stumbled onto New Urbanism a little late in the game - after he'd written Geography of Nowhere and after Seaside, Kentlands and Laguna West and several other New Urbanist developments were already well underway. Oh, and as I've said before, he's also something of a crank, who seems to be getting crankier, now that he's on his peak oil kick.

Still, if you want to believe that New Urbanists dance naked around his graven image and sacrifice SUVs in his name go right ahead. It's a free country. But, personally, my wife and I own two Toyotas, one's a minivan, even...

Number9's picture

Still, if you want to

Still, if you want to believe that New Urbanists dance naked around his graven image and sacrifice SUVs in his name go right ahead. It's a free country. But, personally, my wife and I own two Toyotas, one's a minivan, even...

This was more fun when you defended Kunstler.

Let me have a little time with the vision of a bright fire burning on a pitch black night while a pagan offering of a SUV is offered at the alter of that other New Urbanism.

[sidenote] Of course there are two New Urbanisms, one smart growth and the other a radical anti-automobile socialist cult. But just like having Al Gore as an emissary against Global Warning you better communicate which group you are in. Manbearpig crushed any political chances Al had.

The other observation is if every Knoxville project requires a government handout you better work on your marketing. Bill Haslam is very ambitious. At what point does this start tipping? If I was Bill Lyons I would get out in front of this and start communicating the TIF balance and how much the City budget can absorb.

BBQ Man's picture

Number 9 is accurate for once

Number 9 says "I have no friends." Really. I never would have guessed.
Rachel's picture

It's been explained to you

What Matt said.  You'll notice the south waterfront plan didn't say "knock down the existing single family homes for condos" (which might happen if we leave things to the free market - waterfront property and property close to it continues to increase in value).  It emphasized protecting the existing neighborhoods and increasing density (necessary for the neighborhood commercial everybody wants) by doing condos along the waterfront.

Just curious - why were you pulling for the local firm to win the contract?  Did you read the propsals and/or attend the interviews?  What about their proposals or presentation or experience did you find compelling?

Number9's picture

What about their proposals

What about their proposals or presentation or experience did you find compelling?

The fact that it did not cost 135 million dollars. How is the challenge of finding that remaining 88 million dollars coming?

Rachel's picture

The fact that it did not

The fact that it did not cost 135 million dollars.

"Brilliant" answer.  Since the local firm didn't get the contract, and didn't do the plan, we have no idea what the estimated cost of a plan they produced would be.

Once again, you show you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Enough.

Rachel's picture

Sorry about the double post,

Sorry about the double post, Randy.  I can't figure out how to delete it.

Digit - let me get this straight:  urban sprawl is bad.  Condos to create higher density in the center city are bad.  Just what the hell is your solution?

Number9's picture

urban sprawl is bad. Condos

urban sprawl is bad. Condos to create higher density in the center city are bad.

Whoa, easy girl. What is wrong with density in an urban area? The infrastructure is already there in downtown Knoxville. The issue there is lack of parking. Loft conversations are fine. I just am concerned that favored developers are being subsidized with tax dollars. Maybe if someone outside the usual suspects was treated with the same tender care it would not look so bad.

Suburban sprawl is bad. Outside an Urban area is density a solution for sprawl? Edens has written it is more efficient. Density is great if you are a developer or a banker. Is it good for schools, roads, water, and sewer? Maybe if you plan and build the community from scratch like the Northshore Town Center project. But it sucks for existing communities and neighborhoods.

I wrote a common sense way to decide density a few posts ago. With all of the people that will come to Knoxville and East Tennessee of their own accord why do we allow tax dollars to subsidize the growth of our population? Other than it helps a few select private citizens.

I think where we disagree is that I do not see people abandoning their cars. I think you believe that is possible in Knoxville.

Rachel's picture

Excuse me for thinking you

Excuse me for thinking you were opposed to more density in the center city (which would include the south waterfront, btw).  I guess I misinterpreted these comments.

I recall a study about condo dwellers being less happy than homeowners. Condo dwellers are the perfect political constituency. Since they don't have yards they need parks and can easily be bribed for their votes.

 

Condos are not the salvation of Knoxville. In fact twenty years from now we will regret the very foolish New Urbanism fad that this administration is addicted to.

 


Why is everything everywhere condos? What is so creative about that? Do you know what I think would sell, what would be creative? Brand new Fourth and Gill type neighborhoods with sidewalks and stores.

I would much rather see developments with the lot sizes of Fourth and Gill than I would see condos. 

 

 As for:  I do not see people abandoning their cars. I think you believe that is possible in Knoxville.

 

You just show again how little you understand about what I think.

 

infostat's picture

Old buildings on the strip

An aside. My neighbor tells me (I have not done the research to confirm) that there now remains not one original, historic buildings with an address on Cumberland Ave. The body of the little old lady that lived in the house next to the relocated Long Branch Saloon was still warm when they bulldozed her house a few years back. Its possible that a couple of UT buildings (law library?) have been there from the start, but I'm not sure.

bizgrrl's picture

The law library as it

The law library as it currently stands is not an original, historic building. Sophronia Strong Hall (dormitory) across from the Student Center was built in 1925. What about the Old College Inn building?

Rachel's picture

I know there is only one

I know there is only one original residence left on Cumberland.  Not sure about the commercial buildings. 

And UT itselfs takes down historic buildings right and left.  According to Betsey Creekmore, the only historic building on the UT campus is Tyson House.  So I guess that lets out Ayres Hall, etc.

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