Downtown Knoxville’s void on Gay Street could be filled with a hotel



Plans are underway to fill one of Gay Street’s major ‘missing teeth’, adding an essential to the heart of downtown Knoxville.

If rezoning is approved by Knoxville City Council, hotel developer Shailesh Patel wants to build a mixed-use building at 350 S. Gay St. that would include an upscale hotel brand.

Some call this lot “the notch,” a space on Gay Street between Chivo and the Mast General Store that descends about 20 feet below street level to a parking lot between the two buildings. Some know it as the old terminal house, which caught fire and was demolished in the 1970s. Some know it as the shortcut from Marble Alley Lofts to Market Square.

Everyone knows this as one of the most notable gaps in the downtown cityscape.

If approved by Knoxville City Council, longtime Knoxville hotel developer Shailesh Patel plans to build his second downtown Knoxville hotel at 350 S. Gay St.

Infill projects like this are “as important to the character of the downtown core as the perimeter projects,” said Joe Petre, executive vice president of Lawler-Wood and a consultant on the project. “Because we both have to develop ourselves, but we’ve worked really hard to get it into the core. “

As the city center adds more destination activities like Marble City Market Food Hall on Regas Square and the proposed $ 75.5 million base stadium and the $ 142 million mixed-use complex outside the Old Town, the developers hope that more tourists will stay more nights.

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“I just feel like we’re another grain of sand on the beach in downtown Knoxville with what we’re doing,” Patel told Knox News.

The building design is preliminary

The hotel and commercial project would be developed on a vacant lot.

Patel, who began developing the downtown Hampton Inn & Suites in 2000 and opened it in 2006, was prompted to pursue his second downtown property due to the meteoric growth over the past decade.

Developers he admires have contributed to this growth with major hotel projects: Nick Cazana Tennessee, Rick Dover’s Hyatt Place, Alpsh Patel’s Embassy Suites and others.

Patel first became interested in the half-acre property about six years ago. He bought it for $ 5.9 million in June through the 350 Land company, according to property records.

The building design will not be finalized until City Council approves the rezoning Patel needs. But the project would include a hotel, shops and restaurants at street level, as well as a rooftop terrace with a restaurant, meeting space and bar.

The hotel’s branding would depend on the final design, but Patel said it would favor consumers and tourists alike.

The building could potentially feature condominiums and offices, Patel said, and would feature pedestrian-friendly elements and an aesthetic that matches Gay Street.

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“Personally, as a development family, a family of three generations, we really care that we want to make sure this fits in well,” Patel said.

Customers would enter the on-site parking lot from Gay Street and exit through the alley behind the building.

Patel’s new zoning, Downtown Knoxville Grid Subdistrict, would allow for greater height while requiring pedestrian-friendly and mixed-use features.

Patel said he would build “maybe a few more stories” than the current zoning, allowing about a 12-story building for this project. The final height would depend on the cost and income projections.

Council members are expected to discuss the project at meetings on October 5 and October 19 (major zoning changes require approval at two consecutive meetings). If approved, Patel would enter a two-year design phase before construction.

If the board does not approve the rezoning, “our project will be much more difficult to develop,” said Patel, who declined to give a cost estimate.

He would potentially ask for payment instead of taxes or additional funding to help fund the project, which Patel says could be completed in 2024 or 2025. But he focuses more on the success of the project than on establishing the project. ‘a calendar. Three of the five hotels he developed received a makeover after crews started work.

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“I am very long term, my family is focused on the very long term; we’re very conservative in that regard, ”said Patel, who grew up in Oak Ridge and attended Webb School in Knoxville. “And we never, ever like to promise anything. We just prefer to do it.

The lot once housed the terminal and the adjacent Hall building, which caught fire in 1974, according to a 2014 Knoxville Lost and Found article. It housed a Dollar General at the time and the fire reportedly cost $ 3.5 million in damage.

Filling on Gay Street

With this project, Patel, owner of The 9 Group, would launch its second hotel in downtown Knoxville. He is also the owner of the Hampton Inn & Suites on Papermill, the Hilton Garden Inn on Papermill, the Hampton Inn at Cedar Bluff and the Hampton Inn Oak Ridge.

Petre met Patel during the development of downtown Hampton, and the two have been friends since then.

“What I saw was that Shailesh would do whatever it takes to get it right. And not just in his mind, but for the neighborhood,” said Petre, who has extensive experience in the area. business development and brokerage.

The project proposed by Patel is not the only filling of Gay Street in progress.

Developer Josh Smith has purchased the empty lot at 308 S. Gay St. and has plans for a mixed-use building on the property.

Entrepreneur Josh Smith fulfills a lot just down the street at 308 S. Gay St. between the Century Building and Friedman’s loft. He bought it for $ 950,000 in December and is planning a building with residential and commercial elements.

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Both of these projects would help connect Gay Street to its 100 block. This could mean more visitors are crossing Summit Hill Drive into the Old Town and beyond, as downtown continues to expand north and east. is. Where hopefully more adventures will await tourists over the next decade.

“I hope that in the long run this means that we, as the city center and in general, become uniquely ourselves, and not someone else’s version of who we are meant to be.” , said Petre. “And I think these kinds of projects really do that job.”

Growth and Development Editor-in-Chief Brenna McDermott can be reached at [email protected] Follow his work on Twitter @_BrennaMcD. Support our local information efforts by become a Knox News subscriber.


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