The Daily Pulse:

Jackson Ave. Streetscape Plan, East

If all goes according to plan, Jackson Avenue, from Gay Street to Patton Street on the far eastern edge of the Old City, will be in the midst of a city-sponsored makeover by this time next year.

About 60 showed up in the big room behind Remedy Coffee in the Old City Thursday evening for a public discussion, led by Knoxville Downtown Coordinator Rick Emmett, of the incipient Jackson Avenue Streetscapes Plan. With Emmett was Kassie Holmes, a local representative of international engineering/construction firm CDM Smith, who with landscape-architectural firm CRJA are handling the project. Both emphasized the preliminariness of the endeavor, but they mean for the plan to include new trees and other planting improvements, wider sidewalks (some are very narrow), drainage improvement (the Jackson corridor, parts of which were once swampy, includes some of the lowest spots downtown), better lighting to improve the safety and appeal of the free-parking area beneath James White Parkway, some other parking-lot improvements, and possibly the burial of utility lines, which are currently too close to some of the buildings anyway--especially the elaborate 1890s Richardsonian Romanesque buildings which have long been home to John H. Daniel clothiers but are soon to be renovated for residences by preservationist developer Jon Clark.

Emmett remarked that widening of the sidewalks may call for removal of street parking on Jackson, but at this point the city and CDM Smith seem eager to please the neighborhood's stakeholders.

It being the Old City, there are lots of points of view, including even the notion that utility lines are part of the Old City's character. Nineteenth-century limestone curbs will be preserved wherever they're found. One question, a little out of the ball park of the streetscapes planning process, concerned the possibility of closing Old City streets to traffic on a regular basis, perhaps late at night. Emmett remarked that he didn't see that happening, but said he was open to discussing it further.

Although it's apparently an extension of it, this project is not to be confused with another "Jackson Avenue Streetscapes Plan" on the city's website as, which deals with the west-of-Gay section of that interesting street.

They'll be gathering suggestions for the next several weeks, and formulating more concrete plans thereafter, with construction to begin in spring, 2015.

Emmett is currently taking suggestions. He's at:
Room 470B, City County Building
Fax: 865-215-2320

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