City To Roll Out Latest Vision For Magnolia Avenue This Week
Knoxville city officials and consultants will unveil their latest designs for the Magnolia Avenue Streetscapes Project on Wednesday, part of an effort to revitalize an area that’s suffered from years of deterioration and neglect.
Kimley-Horn and Associates, the city’s engineering design consultant, is expected to reveal its vision for one block of Magnolia between Jessamine and North Bertrand streets. A May 2009 Corridor Plan for the area known as the Magnolia Corridor called for “a mix of strong businesses, a variety of good housing, and well-designed parks and civic spaces.” It also predicted a place where residents and visitors could “walk safely along the avenue’s sidewalks, separated from passing traffic and shaded under a canopy of trees.”
Contrary to popular belief, Magnolia Avenue was not named after the flower, but after the mother of H. Bryan Banner, who served as Mayor of Knoxville between 1880 and 1881. At the time, the area was on the verge of becoming a popular, pedestrian-friendly trolley neighborhood, where Knoxvillians could travel back and forth from Chilhowee Park to downtown Knoxville on streetcars.
But the emergence of the automobile and the construction of I-40 in the middle of the 20th century ushered in a more industrialized presence along Magnolia. In 2014, many of the older homes and businesses in the area are in need of revitalization, surrounded by vacant lots and deteriorated buildings.
Following renovation projects along the South waterfront, Cumberland Avenue and the northern part of downtown, city planners say the Magnolia Avenue Corridor Plan is the last major wedge of land to be revitalized within the neighborhoods known as the “Heart of Knoxville.”