Since the 1982 World’s Fair, there has been a push among city leaders to revive Knoxville’s downtown core. Several efforts helped jumpstart this revival, including the development of Market Square, the Knoxville Convention Center, and the expansion of housing options downtown. Finally, it appears the city’s efforts have caught on. Knoxville was named one of the Urban Land Institute’s “boutique markets” in its annual “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report. Other cities earning the title include Greenville, South Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Boise, Idaho; Omaha, Nebraska; Portland, Maine; and Des Moines, Iowa.
So, what exactly earned Knoxville this distinction? Knoxville’s ability to weather the COVID-19 pandemic is partly to thank, along with a low cost of living (home prices $80,000 below the national average) and cost of business (10% below the national average). Other lifestyle factors include natural amenities and diversity in leisure and cultural activities.
Several downtown projects also aided Knoxville in the achievement of this title, including the conversion of the former state supreme court building to a boutique hotel. Other projects still in the works for the city include a proposed downtown minor league baseball stadium. These projects take advantage of the “opportunity zone” that covers downtown Knoxville, creating tax advantages for investors.
Established businesses driving the economy in the city include the University of Tennessee’s main campus, the headquarters of Pilot Flying J, Discovery’s HGTV, Regal Entertainment Group, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Brunswick Boat Group.
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