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The Pause of the Downtown Knoxville High-Rise: A Closer Look at Apartment Design and Scope


Downtown Knoxville’s skyline was supposed to change with the addition of a 12-story high-rise that is now on pause due to concerns over apartment design and scope.

The development, proposed by Dominion Development Group, was set to be a mixed-use building featuring ground-floor retail and restaurant space, office space, and luxury apartments. However, the project has hit a roadblock as it undergoes revisions to address the concerns raised by the city and community stakeholders.

Background of the Project

The high-rise project, named “The Residences at Riverview,” was envisioned as a transformative addition to the downtown area. Located at the intersection of Gay Street and Summit Hill Drive, the building would have offered stunning views of the Tennessee River and the Great Smoky Mountains.

The initial plans for the high-rise included 55 luxury apartments, ranging from one-bedroom to three-bedroom units, with designer finishes, modern amenities, and expansive floor-to-ceiling windows. The ground floor was designed to accommodate retail and restaurant spaces, while the upper floors were designated for commercial and office use.

The project was expected to inject new life and energy into the downtown area, attracting residents and businesses to a thriving, urban community.

The Pause and Concerns

In March 2021, the City of Knoxville’s Planning Commission voiced concerns about the design and scope of the high-rise project. Some of the main issues raised included the building’s massing and scale, its impact on the surrounding historic district, and the integration of the ground-level retail and restaurant spaces with the broader streetscape.

Community stakeholders, including preservation groups and local residents, also expressed their reservations about the proposed design, emphasizing the need for a more thoughtful and contextual approach to the development.

As a result, Dominion Development Group decided to put the project on pause and engage in further discussions with the city and community stakeholders to address the concerns and reevaluate the design and scope of the high-rise.

Proposed Revisions

In response to the feedback received, Dominion Development Group is considering a range of revisions to the high-rise project. These potential changes include alterations to the building’s massing and height, adjustments to the facade and materials to better align with the historic character of the surrounding area, and a reimagining of the ground-floor retail and restaurant spaces to create a more inviting and pedestrian-friendly environment.

Furthermore, the developer is exploring the possibility of incorporating additional green spaces and public amenities into the project, as well as enhancing the connectivity between the high-rise and the surrounding streetscape.

The aim of these proposed revisions is to create a high-rise that not only meets the city’s development standards but also enriches the downtown experience for residents, visitors, and businesses alike.

Community Engagement and Feedback

Throughout the pause process, Dominion Development Group has been proactive in seeking input from the community and engaging in discussions with various stakeholders. The developer has hosted public forums, met with neighborhood associations, and solicited feedback through online surveys to ensure that the revised plans for the high-rise reflect the desires and concerns of the broader community.

This community engagement has been crucial in shaping the direction of the project and has allowed for a more collaborative and inclusive approach to the development of the high-rise.

Impact on the Downtown Landscape

The pause of the downtown Knoxville high-rise has generated discussions about the balance between modern development and historic preservation in the city. While there is a strong interest in fostering new growth and vitality within the downtown area, there is also a commitment to honoring and preserving the architectural heritage and character of the surrounding neighborhoods.

The outcome of the high-rise project will be influential in shaping the future of downtown Knoxville and will likely set a precedent for future developments in the area. As such, the careful consideration of design, scale, and community integration will be pivotal in determining the long-term impact of the high-rise on the downtown landscape.

The Role of Design in Urban Development

The pause of the high-rise project underscores the significance of thoughtful and context-driven design in urban development. While bold and innovative architectural solutions can contribute to the evolution of a city, they must also be sensitive to the existing fabric and identity of the community.

Design plays a multifaceted role in urban development, encompassing not only the physical form and aesthetics of buildings but also their functionality, sustainability, and capacity to foster a sense of place and belonging.

In the case of the downtown Knoxville high-rise, the revisions being considered aim to strike a balance between modernity and contextuality, creating a building that complements its surroundings while offering contemporary amenities and lifestyle options.

Lessons for Future Development Projects

The pause of the high-rise project provides valuable insights for developers, city officials, and community members involved in future development projects.

Firstly, it highlights the importance of early and ongoing engagement with the community to ensure that development proposals align with the aspirations and concerns of local residents. Transparent and inclusive communication can foster a sense of shared ownership and investment in the outcome of a project.

Secondly, it emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to design that considers both the immediate impact and long-term implications of a development on its surroundings. By taking into account factors such as scale, aesthetics, functionality, and community integration, developers can create projects that are not only visually striking but also conducive to the well-being and vibrancy of the urban environment.

Finally, the pause of the high-rise project serves as a reminder of the dynamic and iterative nature of urban development. As cities continue to evolve, the adaptation and refinement of development projects in response to feedback and changing needs are essential to creating environments that are enduring and responsive to the diverse needs of their inhabitants.

Looking Ahead

As Dominion Development Group continues to work on the revisions for the downtown Knoxville high-rise, the collaborative efforts of the developer, city officials, and community stakeholders will be instrumental in shaping the future of the project.

The prospect of a redesigned high-rise that strikes a harmonious balance between contemporary design and historical context holds the potential to redefine the downtown landscape and set a new standard for urban development in Knoxville.

The outcome of the high-rise project will not only impact the physical environment of downtown Knoxville but also reflect the values and aspirations of the community. It is a testament to the power of collective vision and engagement in shaping the built environment of a city.

As the discussions and revisions progress, the pause of the downtown Knoxville high-rise serves as a compelling example of the complexities and considerations involved in urban development and the potential for meaningful collaboration to create spaces that resonate with the people they serve.

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