“Downtown Secret Supper” reveals secrets

David Dewhirst outlines his latest downtown vision.

David Dewhirst outlines his latest downtown vision.

He seems like an open book. But downtown developer David Dewhirst is a man with secrets! At least he was until last Friday when he led about 40 Knox Heritage supporters on the 2010 “Downtown Secret Supper” tour — and spilled the beans about some of his latest plans.

Here’s what we found out:

  • Behind the buildings on the west side of the 100 block of Gay Street is an “urban forest.”
  • In the “L” formed behind the buildings on the southwest corner of the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Gay Street is a steep foliage-covered rock outcropping that served as the siege line during the Civil War. The union army defended the town from behind that rock outcropping.
  • Plans call for that area to be a cool little residential development. It will include the top floors of the buildings on the 100 block of Gay Street as well as residences in the Tennessee Associated and Tennessee Armature Buildings on Jackson Avenue.
  • In the middle of the backyards of those buildings, right up against the rock outcropping, will be a downtown Knoxville swimming pool.

“Hopefully, in 18 months, we’ll be seeing bronzed bodies around the pool here,” Dewhirst said with a grin. “And we’ll keep a lot of these trees that constitute the only urban forest in downtown Knoxville.”

Developer Jeffrey Nash, the guy behind the successful Crown & Goose restaurant in the Old City, also is involved in the project, Dewhirst said.

The “Downtown Secret Supper” is one dinner experience in Knox Heritage’s “Summer Suppers” series. This one was actually a beer tasting. But here’s the deal: you pay your money and show up at an address you are given a few days beforehand. Then you are taken on a progressive dinner at surprise locations. Come along!

We were sent a message in the mail to show up at 500 W. Jackson Ave. That turned out to be the future office of Sanders Pace Architects. Little crepes wrapped around a variety of savory fillings were provided by The French Market, along with beer and wine.

David and Nancy Goodson at SandersPace building.

David and Nancy Goodson at Sanders Pace building.

Alan Carmichael at SandersPace's unfinished space. We were to see a LOT of exposed brick this evening!

Alan Carmichael at Sanders Pace's unfinished space looking out at Jackson Avenue. We were to see a LOT of exposed brick this evening!

David Dewhirst, left, and Rick Stone get into the beer tasting aspect of the evening at SandersPace space.

David Dewhirst, left, and Rick Stone get into the beer tasting aspect of the evening at Sanders Pace space.

When I asked where we were going to go next, Dan Holbrook just smiled and said, “It’s close.” We were instructed to follow him. So, drinks in hand, we headed East on Jackson Avenue a couple hundred feet.

Following our leader, Dan Holbrook, in white apron.

Following our leader, Dan Holbrook, in white apron.

We ended up in a shady area behind the Tennessee Associated and Tennessee Armature buildings on Jackson Avenue.

From this vantage point, the backs of the buildings on the 100 block of Gay Street are straight ahead. The Tennessee Associated and Tennessee Armature buildings are to the left, although you can't see them in this shot.

From this vantage point, the backs of the buildings on the 100 block of Gay Street are straight ahead. The Tennessee Associated and Tennessee Armature buildings are to the left, although you can't see them in this shot.

Behind Alan are the backs of the Tennessee Associated and Tennessee Armature buildings.

Behind Alan are the backs of the Tennessee Associated and Tennessee Armature buildings. He is gazing up at a rock outcropping used during the siege of Knoxville.

David Dewhirst explains the plans. The swimming pool will be near where he is standing.

David Dewhirst explains the plans. The swimming pool will be near where he is standing. The rock outcropping is in the background, covered with foliage.

Then is was back onto Jackson Avenue headed west a few hundred feet back past Sanders Pace and on to the Southeastern Glass building on the right near the corner of Henley Street. This building is being developed as condominiums.

We gathered in front of the Southeastern Glass building.

We gathered in front of the Southeastern Glass building.

Jay Pfaffman gave us a brief history of beer.

Jay Pfaffman gave us a brief history of beer.

Inside, five condos were set up for beer tastings. More than 20 different beers were offered. (I drank wine!)

Bill Marks serves from a growler of porter, in foreground.

Bill Marks serves from a growler of porter, in foreground.

Dawn Ford and Alan Carmichael pose in one of the upstairs condos. Love that brick.

Dawn Ford and Alan Carmichael pose in one of the upstairs condos. Love that brick.

Becky and Steve Hancock in a condo.

Becky and Steve Hancock in a condo. (They're in love!)

Dinner was served downstairs. Thank goodness for the big fans that were set up! A fabulous barbecue dinner was prepared by Blaise Burch, formerly of the Deadend Barbecue Team.  All meats were donated by J.A. Fielden. There even was grilled tofu provided by Cheryl Holcombe and Todd Witcher.

Dinner was great!

Dinner was great!

Ghada and Faris Eid, two of the evening's hosts, propose a toast with barbecue sauce!

Ghada and Faris Eid, two of the evening's hosts, propose a toast with barbecue sauce!

After dinner, dessert was served in the penthouse suite.

Jim Klonaris, of Cafe Four on Market Square, poses with the desserts he provided in the penthouse.

Jim Klonaris, of Cafe Four on Market Square, poses with the desserts he provided in the penthouse.

The view is great from the balcony of the penthouse, as you can see behind Sarah Bush of Slow Food Knoxville.

The view is great from the balcony of the penthouse, as you can see behind Sarah Bush of Slow Food Knoxville.

This is a side note: Our friends Julia Bentley and Dawn Ford were among the group attending this event. Look how good they look in the picture below. This is remarkable if you read the previous post. They also were among the slumber party participants the night before this event!

Julia Bentley, left, and Dawn Ford in the Sanders Pace space.

Julia Bentley, left, and Dawn Ford in the Sanders Pace space.

8 Responses to ““Downtown Secret Supper” reveals secrets”

  1. Cynthia, thanks for this post — I learned a lot! Very interesting about the rock outcropping used during the siege.

  2. A pool? I can’t wait!

  3. Gay, you are all about pools, aren’t you? Ha! I don’t know if it’s a private pool or if it will have some kind of membership offer or what. Need to find that out, I guess.

  4. Nice post, Cynthia. Southeastern Glass will be open to the public this Friday evening (July 2) for First Friday. Joe will have art on display from Cynthia Markert and photographer Tom McDaniel. Good opportunity for folks to check it out. Here’s the Facebook event page: http://bit.ly/awYs7J

  5. Cynthia- thanks for the kind words – and for helping support Knox Heritage with your presence (i.e. buying tickets!). As one of the co-chairs, along with Mary Holbrook, my only complaint is about being too busy to spend any time with our guests. Let me take this opportunity to say ‘thanks so much’ to everyone who attended. We hope you had a great, if warm, time! Thanks, WB

  6. I dunno…I’m always saddened by the prospect of tree loss, esp downtown where air quality is the worst and trees are the only buffer. I hope David leaves as many old-growth trees as possible and not just clear-cut and replace w/saplings. We still don’t have a real park downtown–sigh, I guess there’s no $$ to be made in parks.

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