City and community push ahead for revitalization after warehouse fire

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Dozens of firefighters continued to stand watch over the McClung warehouse, attacking hot spots late into Saturday afternoon.

"On my drive in, I saw the water trucks, and obviously there was some devastation down there," said Nina Phalen, owner of Style of Civilization.

The city was just weeks away from getting bids for reconstruction on the dilapidated buildings.

"We always want to preserve major buildings, and those are buildings that are indicative of warehouses and major commercial activity early in the century," said deputy to the mayor and chief policy officer Bill Lyons.

It's all part of the city's continual effort to give Knoxville's downtown a facelift. Hoping for results similar to those seen just around the corner on Gay Street.

"I love the 100 block. I love the idea that it's up and coming, and there are a lot of people who live here and I think giving them a lot of options of shopping and restaurants is really great," said Phalen.

It's a renovation project that's been making it's way to Jackson street, but some worried the smoke filled air and closed road be an ominous sign of what's to come.

"We're very, very hopeful that Jackson Avenue will be able to be developed in a way that would enhance downtown and the connectivity between downtown and North Knoxville," said Lyon.

Business owners who invested faith and cash in this up and coming neighborhood agree. They'll tell you the smoldering remains aren't enough to shake their confidence.

"We love the idea that the city's gotten involved, and unfortunately this building was part of that project, but I have faith that they'll be able to pick themselves up and be able to move forward and it'll still be able to grow," said Phalen.

All it takes is a quick glance at full parking lots and foot traffic to know why the city won't give up.

"My hope is that one remaining building is sound and still has a hope of being renovated and part of a major renovation," said Lyon.

And the community won't give up either.

"The folks that live here and work here really believe in this area, so I have faith," said Phalen.

The city was expecting bids to revitalize the McClung warehouses on February 18th.

Right now, it's not sure whether that date will get pushed back. It does know the project will change now that demolition will be needed.

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