Until the 1950’s, Magnolia Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee, was an affluent, thriving corridor for commerce and housing connecting the predominately African-American neighborhoods of east Knoxville to downtown. As the city grew, development activity shifted to the west resulting in the decline and decay of many of the properties and disinvestment in business and commerce along Magnolia Avenue.
This disinvestment had a negative effect on property values along the corridor and in the adjacent neighborhoods. Families are not moving into the area; performance in the neighborhood schools has declined, and the existing African-American population feels disenfranchised and isolated from the rest of the city. The return of significant, sustainable business to Magnolia Avenue is a key issue for the community as is preserving the historic character of the excising building stock. A transformed image along Magnolia will demonstrate that the neighborhood is a safe, active place for families to live, work, and play.
The Magnolia Avenue Corridor Study, a joint project of AIA East Tennessee and the Knoxville/Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission, will provide a framework for public and private investment in the area. The Magnolia Avenue Corridor has never had a comprehensive planning and implementation strategy to give the area vision, cohesiveness and direction. In a planning workshop, the community will have the opportunity to identify the needs and opportunities in the corridor, articulate a vision for their neighborhood, and consider the values against which development interventions should be measured. Subsequent, more specific workshops will focus on land use, streetscape, traffic/pedestrian circulation, and economic opportunities.
In addition to a general plan for the neighborhood, to be presented to the Knoxville City Council for adoption, a site specific improvement project will be identified. This project will show immediate improvement and can serve as a catalyst for additional renovation projects.