SOUTH KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Revitalizing south Knoxville has been a priority ever since the Henley Street Bridge closed more than a year ago.
Closing bridge has stopped a lot of traffic through there.
But even though it's not hard to get around and find a different way, people simply are not passing through. Neighborhood businesses are ignored and shutting down, and that's why the city and county are stepping up to help.
"You can see the traffic, it's 5:00 and traffic on Chapman Highway is just about dead," said County Mayor Tim Burchett.
The latest cash mob to help promote business was at McLemore Florist on E. Young High on Friday night. It brought customers in and money to the register.
"It seems like all the businesses are shutting down, so we wanted to see what we could do," said south Knoxville residents Cathy and Mike Nelson.
Jeff Christian bought a stake in the shop last year.
"A lot of hesitancy with this business. But this business was well-established with these previous owners, and it was the only time this opportunity was going to open, so we took a chance on it," said Christian.
He's hoping that this crowd can spread the word because people just aren't coming to this part of town.
"Is this going to save McLemore Florist? Well heck no, but it's gonna put it in people minds that they need to come out here and shop and support their local businesses," said Burchett.
Many believe it started when the bridge closed, and some of that may be true. Mayor Burchett estimates 30 businesses have shut down in the past couple of years.
But that's just one route to south Knoxville, there are several others.
"Everybody's got a point, it's hard to get out here, and it really isn't. People come here everyday and say wow it's not hard to get there, there's nothing to it," said Ron Emery, who runs Emery 5 & 10.
"We draw these artificial barriers: north, south, east and west. (People say,) 'I'm not going to go there because it's in south Knoxville.' And for too long, south Knoxville has been the stepchild of this community and that's not right," said Burchett.
Mayor Burchett and the county are out to change that perception.
That's why they're having "Southfest" next month on April 12 and 13.
It's similar to cash mobs, but much bigger. There will be live music, activities, a car show, and even a circus-style show.
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