From supreme court to supreme potential

By: Liz Tedone
By: Liz Tedone

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) -- The face of downtown Knoxville could see some big changes in the near future.

On Monday, the city released tentative plans for a $78 million redevelopment of an entire city block across from the convention center.

The block currently houses the Old State Supreme Court building and is bordered by Henley Street, West Church Avenue, Cumberland Avenue and Locust Street.

Once the development is complete, it would be called Metropolitan Plaza, and be connected to the convention center by an enclosed walking bridge, suspended over Henley Street.

“The fact that somebody's willing to invest this kind of dollars, speaks volumes about what has happened downtown,” said Mayor Bill Haslam.

The project has been spearheaded by developer Nick Cazana.

According to the plan, Metropolitan Plaza would include retail shops, a 450-unit parking garage, office space, a 200 room "boutique" hotel and 25 to 30 condos.

A 2004 voter approved city ordinance prevents taxpayer dollars from going to any hotel considered a “convention center hotel.”

However according to developers, Metropolitan Plaza would be exempt from the ordinance.

“The hotel only handles about 37 percent of total development, so in no form or fashion does it become a ‘convention center hotel,’” said Cazana

“We understand the ordinance and we’re not going to do anything to violate it,” said Mayor Haslam. “We think this is a great project for downtown and great for citizens and taxpayers.”

Cazana isn’t alone in trying to develop the property.

A total of three developers have presented bids to the city for the Old State Supreme Court site.

All three bids included hotel space.


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