Knoxville Eyesores

I actually got up yesterday to check the KNS online to see their article on Knoxville Eyesores.  I have to say that I’m a little disappointed, but I guess you get what you pay for.  It seems like they were addressing issues that occur everywhere else in Generica–urban sprawl, litter, strip malls, abanadoned warehouses, etc.

While all of these are definitely eyesores, they aren’t specific to Knoxville.  I decided I’d come up with my own incomplete list of eyesores that are specific to K-Town.  Of course, these are my personal opinions.

1.  The Sunsphere–the article only mentioned it in passing.  Allow me to elaborate.
The world is full of remnants from past World’s Fairs.  Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Seattle has the Space Needle, St. Louis has a beautiful park, zoo, and museums.  Knoxville has a really big golf tee with a shiny ball on it.  Up until a couple of weeks ago there was no use for this thing, and I suspect this will be the case again within the next couple of years.  We can only hope that Bart simpson and Millhouse will one day fulfill prophecy and come to town to knock it down.  I’m working on opening a wig shop up there to hurry along the coming of Bart.

2.  The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
As my favorite local sportstalk radio caller, “Small Mike”, calls it–The Mistake by the Lake.  When I think of the WBHOF, the first thing that comes to mind is “why?”.  Why do we have this thing here?  Is there really a market for a hall of fame for women’s basketball?  I mean, sure, I guess you can argue that they deserve their own hall of fame, but is it really going to make Knoxville a destination?  Are people going to even bother stopping here on their way from Ft. Wayne Indiana to Florida to see it?  No.  This only makes it useless.  The “eyesore” part is brought about by the huge basketball that is integrated into the ediface.  What is it with this town and huge orbs?  Let’s count our blessing that the planetarium, whose design would have completed the trifecta of huge spheres on buildings in the downtown area, is off the table (for now).

3.  Neyland Stadium
That’s right.  I said it.  Neyland Stadium.  Here’s a great idea–let’s take a piece of prime real estate, erect an enormous building there, and use it seven, maybe eight times a year (I’m including the finishing point for the Knoxville Marathon).  Seriously, this thing is in use a maximum of 90 hours a year.  What a waste.  I know that our economy relies heavily on Tennessee football.  I know that the stadium is a landmark for our city.  I am well aware that there is a great sense of pride associated with being a Volunteer, but this should be located in a different area.  Which brings me to…

4.  Fort Sanders
Some of my best memories, and some of my best moments that I can’t remember, are rooted in Fort Sanders–Knoxville’s student ghetto.  Fifteen years ago (when I was living there), I used to walk around and imagine that all of these beautiful old houses would be bought from the slum lords, renovated, and one day be occupied by perfect families with golden retrievers.  Well, at least the houses were bought.  However, they are systematically being torn down and replaced with cookie-cutter student condos.  Ick.  I’d rather the big ass football stadium be moved there.  This would open up the waterfront more and open up a world of development there if we could only get rid of…

5.  Neyland Drive
The only thing worse that erecting a seldom used building on a prime piece of waterfront real estate could be taking the entire strip of waterfront and building a highway on it.  What?!?!?!?!  This may have been an okay idea if they’d left some room for business and housing by the water, but that would make way too much sense.  To be fair, we have a nice greenway that runs along this strip of water, and I small park on one end, but you need look no further than cities like San Antonio and Chicago to see how waterfront property can be used and developed.

Don’t get me wrong.  Knoxville is a really beautiful city, and I can’t think of a place I’d rather live, at least on the mainland.  But there are a few things that would make our town a lot nicer if they were moved or taken away completely.  This list mostly covers the Downtown/UT area.  Feel free to add your own.

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Comments

This particular article hits home because I own a commercial building on Broadway which may be only second behind Clinton Hwy in terms of unsightly strip malls, overgrown yards, and litter.
There are many causes, some of which can not quickly addressed (see the Philosophy section of the bookstore). However, some other causes could be eliminated tomorrow, most of which stem from the very fixes that the City and citizens recommend.
Blighted properties: how many of the complainers have researched property codes for Knoxville? I have. Basically, it is not economically advantageous to upgrade most buildings that are already earning rent. If the facade of a building in Knoxville is upgraded then all electrical, plumbing, structural, handicap, and egress facilities (which were o.k. before) must be upgraded as well. Well over $100k for a modest size building.
Next, Litter. If you want to stop it, hire a company to stop it, allowing them to fine the individuals. Otherwise, accept the problems associated with government ownership of roads.

I don’t have the time to discuss the problems with the ‘Keep Knoxville Beautiful’ department or the Historical Society who seem to think that they have determined the only suitable architectural style of design for new/modifed construction.

Don’t add laws, add incentives.

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