Design Review Board

Level 3: Construction of new building/structure


Staff Recommendation for Level 3: Construction of new building/structure

Staff recommends APPROVAL of Certificate 8-G-22-DT, subject to the following conditions:
1) Final site plan and parking garage to meet City Engineering standards;
2) Final landscaping plan to meet standards of City zoning code (12.2) and design guidelines;
3) Any mechanical equipment or service utilities incorporated in construction drawings should be placed on secondary elevations and receive screening as necessary;
4) Signage to return to Design Review Board as a separate application;
5) Final project to comply with any applicable redevelopment agreements with the City of Knoxville.

Applicant Request

SUMMARY: Proposed new 5-6 story, multi-family construction (five stories of residential apartments above a basement level). The new building is proposed for an irregularly-shaped site at the intersection of E. Hill Avenue and James White Parkway; the site features an existing building recessed towards the west and a surface parking lot. The building will feature an internal four-story parking garage adjoining the east side of the existing building; the multi-family building will wrap around the north, west, and south of the central parking garage and occupy most of the remaining property. An irregularly-shaped, two-story amenity space and second-story pool will align with the southeastern corner of E. Hill Avenue.

SITE LAYOUT AND ACCESS: The parking garage will be accessed on the east elevation via an existing approximately 28' wide driveway extending west from E. Hill Avenue, leading to the lowest level of the interior parking garage. A second, existing access from the south/southeast corner of the property will remain, providing access to the surface parking on the west side. Pedestrian access is limited to internal points on the west elevation.

DESIGN ELEMENTS: The flat-roof building rests on a foundation clad in alternating sections of brick and stone veneer. The design features alternating vertical bands of cementitious lap siding (in multiple colors), wood-look cementitious siding, board-and-batten composite siding, and stucco. Recessed bays alternate with slightly projecting bays. The windows are full-light storefront windows of multiple rectangular sizes, some featuring full-light entry doors to balconies. The roofline features a multi-tiered parapet cornice with a sheet metal cap. Balconies are prefinished black aluminum guardrails. The amenity space with a second-story pool is triangular in shape and will be clad in brick with cast stone insets, bases, and caps, and aluminum storefront windows below.

One sign is proposed for the east elevation, adjacent to the parking access, and one wall sign is proposed for the north elevation corner. The application also includes a landscaping plan including tree and shrub plantings around E. Hill Avenue and the retention of multiple existing trees to the rear of the site. There is no exterior mechanical equipment depicted in the drawings. Depicted lighting includes sconce patio lighting and internally illuminated signage.

Site Info

1. The property is an outlier of DK zoning, located to the far east of other DK-zoned properties. Previously zoned C-2, the property would not have been subject to design review prior to the new zoning ordinance. The surrounding area is characterized by large architectural and highway development developed in the late 1960s and 1970s, along with new construction multi-family buildings to the south and southwest adjacent to the river. The surrounding area lacks a consistent building pattern or historic context (compared to existing blocks on Gay Street, for example).

2. The application includes surface parking to the west of the property and a four-story parking garage. Both parking areas will use existing access points; no new curb cuts will be created. The four-story parking garage will not be visible from the public right-of-way, as the building wraps around the north, east, and south elevations and adjoins an existing building. The building wrap is a creative solution to provide parking while ensuring "new parking facilities remain subordinate to the street scene." The existing access points meet the intent of the design guidelines, as they will not create additional safety issues for pedestrians and will not create new curb cuts in the sidewalk. The final site plan and parking layout should meet all City Engineering standards.

3. The design incorporates alternating vertical bands of materials, alternating vertical recessions or projections, balconies, and full-light windows. There is a sufficient amount of upper-level transparency on all elevations; the proposal avoids large swaths of siding with no windows. The proposal includes a consistent rhythm of openings, windows, doorways, and entrances. The guidelines recommend dividing large buildings into "'modules' that are similar in scale to traditional downtown buildings" with a "recognizable base, middle, and top on all exposed elevations." The design includes vertical bands to break up the massing, along with a brick foundation base and a parapet-topped roofline.

4. The overall design does not include any commercial or retail uses on the first story. Many guidelines encourage incorporating first floor uses that are open to pedestrians and draw walk-in traffic. This area of downtown is largely residential, marked by wide multi-lane roads, and does not feature many other commercial or retail spaces. Guidelines encourage creating a "largely transparent and consistent rhythm of entrances and windows" on the ground floor. The proposal includes windows, balconies, and full-height doors at the first floor, along with additional transparency on the corner below the pool deck, though the topography and foundation design will create some blank walls at the pedestrian level along E. Hill Avenue. Overall, there is sufficient ground-level transparency to meet the guidelines. Final elevation drawings should confirm the design meets all design standards for the DK-B zoning.

5. Guidelines recommend the use of building materials that "relate to the scale, durability, color, and texture of the predominate building materials in the area." The surrounding area does not demonstrate much continuity in materials; adjacent residential development is new construction, clad in fiber cement lap siding. In the opinion of staff, the vertical "wood-look" fiber cement siding provided as an accent does not usually complement the character of downtown Knoxville, as unfinished wood siding would not have been applied to multi-story downtown buildings. In this instance, it is on recessed massings in an area characterized by new construction, and may be appropriate.

6. The application does not include complete details on lighting or mechanical equipment and service utilities. Any exterior mechanical equipment or service utilities should be located on secondary elevations and receive screening if necessary to meet the guidelines. Lighting should meet City standards for exterior lighting.

7. The signs depicted on the elevation drawings do not contain sufficient information for the DRB's review at this time. The proposed signs are large in size to be located on a solely residential building. A separate signage application should be submitted to the DRB for further review.


Cole Tarlas Ridgehouse Companies

Planning Staff
Lindsay Crockett
Phone: (865) 215-3795
0 E. Hill Ave.

Hill Avenue Storage LLC