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.”
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.
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.
We ended up in a shady area behind the Tennessee Associated and Tennessee Armature buildings on Jackson Avenue.
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.
Inside, five condos were set up for beer tastings. More than 20 different beers were offered. (I drank wine!)
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.
After dinner, dessert was served in the penthouse suite.
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!