2021 Development Activity Report Available

Knox County’s development landscape remained resilient in 2021. Though the pandemic disrupted some segments of the local economy, residential and non-residential construction activity was strong, bolstered by low mortgage rates and high levels of in-migration.

Continuing a trend of the past few years, demand for housing continues to outpace supply. Residential permits are up 19.5 percent over the past five years, reaching 3,810 in 2021 – nearly back to the peak of 4,185 in 2006, ahead of the Great Recession. The Northwest County Sector once again grabbed the highest number of new units at 988. The Southwest County Sector has followed closely in the past, but this year’s number two spot was secured by the Central City Sector which saw 673 new units. The Central City is home to two of the largest apartment projects of the year: Whites Park Place and the Austin Homes redevelopment site. In terms of subdivisions, Northwest County ranked first with 16 new plats encompassing 501 lots.

As reported last year, another continuing trend seen throughout Knox County is an increase in land rezoned from agricultural to residential use. Agricultural rezonings in 2020 and 2021 are the highest they’ve been since the Great Recession. This year’s largest gain came from a 131-acre property in Northwest County that was rezoned planned residential.   

Non-residential construction is also experiencing growth, up 103 percent from five years ago, and reporting the highest number of permit approvals since 2007. Northwest County’s addition of 72 units eclipsed all other sectors, followed by Southwest County’s 42 units and North County’s 41. Several large, noteworthy projects were permitted during the year, including the new Northwest County Elementary School and Adrian Burnett Elementary School in North County. Two projects within the City of Knoxville had a big impact as well: the Amazon Delivery Center at the former Knoxville Center Mall site in North City and the City’s Public Safety Facility at the old St. Mary’s Hospital site in Central City. A handful of new medical facilities also factored into the rise in non-residential growth during the year.

Despite continuing disruptions to the labor market and supply chain, both residential and non-residential growth in Knox County flourishes. Popularity in the Northwest and Southwest County Sectors continues to lead the way, and demand for residential development shows no signs of slowing.


For more information or for a version of this report in a screen-reader accessible format, contact Aubrey Weiland in our Information Services division or view past reports on our website.