The folks behind the Metropolitan Plaza development in downtown Knoxville are taking a unique approach in planning what amenities it should include. They are asking potential customers.
Earlier this week, the developers, Nick, Justin and Ryan Cazana of Commercial and Investment Properties, hosted a lunch at Club LeConte for the heads of some of Knoxville’s leading commercial real estate firms. After everyone had placed lunch orders, Nick got right to the point: “You all do a majority of the office leasing in town. What amenities should be in this office building?”
Metropolitan Plaza, or as Nick prefers to call it, “The Met,” is a $78 million mixed use development that will include a full-service hotel, an office building, residential condominiums, a parking garage and some retail space. It will be located in the block bounded by Church Avenue, Locust Street, Cumberland Avenue and Henley Street and will have a crosswalk running above Henley to the World’s Fair Park.
The meeting with the brokers is just one example of the developers reaching out to potential customers for information. Last month they sent 150 written surveys to downtown condo dwellers asking what amenities they would like to see in a new condominium development. Those results are still coming in.
Nick assured the brokers that their input would be confidential – he even asked them to write on slips of paper what each thought the lease rate should be – so I won’t go into too much detail about their specific suggestions. But it will come as no surprise that they unanimously told him the number one issue for companies looking at downtown office space is parking. Another theme: concern for the environment. One broker told him all the company’s clients are asking about “green” initiatives in any potential office space: things like chemical-free carpet and lights that are activated by motion detectors.
The Cazanas’ vision for “The Met” is that it will be the best place in Knoxville to have a home or office. It will have a full-service restaurant and bar and a common lobby for the hotel, office and condos that will generate lots of activity. It’s that activity that will differentiate it from the other class-A office space downtown. Most of the existing space, though very nice, features fairly static lobby areas with not much going on. “We want a lobby where people will want to gather,” Nick said. “That means activity.”
Nick said construction should start by this time next year, with the garage and office building opening in 18 to 22 months and the hotel six months after that.
If you have an opinion about any specific amenities The Met should include, contact the developers at [email protected]. Or post your comment here.