Design Review Board

Level 3: Construction of new building/structure


Staff Recommendation

Staff recommends approval of Certificate 2-C-24-DT, subject to the following conditions: 1) final drawings to meet all relevant aspects of City zoning ordinance, including ground-level awnings and any lighting provided; 2) final drawings to meet City Engineering standards; 3) sign package to be submitted to DRB for review.

Applicant Request

SUMMARY: Proposed new 9-story hotel building, proposed for an irregular site with frontage on the 400 block of W. Church Ave, the 600 block of Walnut Street, and the 600 block of Market Street. The site currently features a surface parking lot. The building will feature ground-level commercial spaces, including two retail spaces on the corner of Walnut and Church, public space for the hotel fronting Church Ave, and a café/restaurant space along Market Street. Floors two through five will contain structured parking, and floors six through nine will feature a hotel. The hotel spaces are recessed from the overall footprint of the parking garage below, inset approximately 14'-16' on the west and south elevations.

SITE LAYOUT AND ACCESS: The building features structure parking on levels two through five. The parking garage will be accessible via an approximately 27' wide, two-way vehicular entrance off Market Street. The entrance accesses a valet drop-off with a ramp to four levels of structured parking. There are at least two pedestrian access points on Walnut Street, five along W. Church Avenue, and two on Market Street.

The flat roof building is clad in brick veneer on the first through fifth stories, with fiber cement panels on the recessed hotel massing. The parking deck will be screened in a bronze perforated aluminum cladding. At the corner of Church and Walnut, a five-story plinth clad in brick veneer features ground-level transparency and openings to the parking garage on levels two through five. At the hotel levels, the corners feature angled parapets clad in fiber cement panels.

Walnut Street elevation (south): The south elevation features five bays of aluminum multi-light storefront entries on the ground level with parking screening panels centered above. The hotel massing features seven bays of fixed windows, with a parapet wall along the ceiling. The rightmost bays of the Walnut Street elevation will be obscured by the General Building and feature fiber cement panels.

Church Avenue elevation (west): The west elevation features one small pedestrian entry followed by two vehicular openings and then two multi-light storefront entries. Four bays of perforated aluminum cladding are above, followed by the hotel massing which reflects the transparency pattern and materials of the Walnut Street elevation.

North elevation: The north elevation, facing buildings fronting Clinch Avenue, features fiber cement cladding, areas open to the parking deck, and upper-level window for the hotel.

Market Street elevation (east): The east elevation features two storefronts at ground level; the hotel entry features a structural canopy projecting out toward the street, with a second storefront open to a café. Both storefronts feature aluminum multi-light storefronts. Above the street level, the building is recessed to provide a second-story rooftop patio, located in front of full-light aluminum storefront systems. The hotel massing projects out in angled fiber cement panels from a brick veneer-clad massing.

Site Info

1. The building is proposed for a surface parking lot, with street frontage on Church Avenue, Walnut Street, and Market Street. The block features several historic brick masonry buildings including the YWCA, the General Building, and is across the street from the midcentury Walnut Building. All three blocks feature heavy pedestrian activity and the design will continue to engage via the streetscape via public and commercial space on all three elevations.

2. The parking garage meets the design guidelines as the second through fourth stories do not contain blank walls, breaking up the massing via the aluminum perforated panels with angled designs and brick-clad piers in between. The design allows for commercial uses on the ground floor and hotel space above. The site plan includes only one curb cut, with access to the garage along Walnut Street, which meets the design guidelines for pedestrian safety in the public realm. The final site plan should meet all City Engineering standards related to the structured parking area and any sight distance guidelines.

3. The building "maintains a pedestrian-scaled environment" on each of the street-facing elevations, with commercial entries and transparency evenly spaced along Walnut, Church, and Market Street. The design successfully divides a larger building with three uses into "modules similar in scale to traditional downtown buildings [...] with a recognizable base, middle, and top on all exposed elevations." There are no blank walls along street-facing elevations.

4. The design incorporates a stepback from the street-facing façade on the Market Street elevation, to provide a rooftop patio above the first story. Per Article 5.5.B.3, the zoning code requires the stepback above the third story and below the seventh story; the Design Review Board has the capacity to vary this dimensional standard provided the element meets the design guidelines. In the opinion of staff, the stepback at the second story allows the east elevation to engage the streetscape along Market Street and create "modules" that are similar in scale to traditional downtown buildings. The stepback and patio will be generally aligned with the stepback on the adjacent building at 607 Market Street and the ground-level stone cladding on the General Building.

5. Overall, the design meets the guidelines for building materials by "using complimentary materials and elements, especially next to historic buildings." The proposal incorporates brick veneer in multiple colors, which will compliment the masonry elements on the General Building and the YWCA. While the perforated aluminum cladding is a unique element to downtown, the material will obscure the parking garage while creating visual interest. Contemporary materials, including fiber cement panels and aluminum storefront systems, are recessed on the upper hotel floors and less visible from the street level.

6. The design guidelines and zoning code recommend using a consistent rhythm of openings, windows, doorways, and entries. The Church Avenue, Walnut Street, and Market Street elevations achieve this with a consistent pattern of clear glass storefront systems, with entrances proportionate to the building's height and width. The windows and doors are recessed from the overall building face to provide depth to the façade. The corner plinth incorporates additional transparency, which contributes to the overall design.

7. The application places mechanical equipment such as electrical, fire, and trash storage on a secondary elevation, along the alley interior to the block. The drawings do not indicate rooftop mechanical units but any incorporated in construction drawings should be screened to meet standards of the zoning ordinance.

8. The application does not include details on sign placement, design, or lighting. Signage should be submitted to the DRB in a separate package.


Tate Wright Elevate Architecture Studio

Planning Staff
Lindsay Crockett
Phone: 865-215-3795
409 W. Church Ave.

Vector Knoxville II LLC