Fountain City is booming! But why?

Shannon CareyFountain City

Word has reached us that McAlister’s Deli is coming to Fountain City, to be located in the former CiCi’s Pizza building at Broadway and Tazewell Pike across from Party City. That news, coupled with the recent openings of Denny’s and Panda Express along Broadway, made us wonder why Fountain City seems to be booming. What’s our town-within-a-town doing right?

Former Knoxville City Council member and current mover and shaker with Fountain City Town Hall Carlene Malone claimed not to understand the “multiple and complex” reasons behind recent growth in Fountain City, but we think she’s selling herself short.

“The economic conditions of the U.S. and Tennessee and Knoxville are good and have steadily improved since the 2008 bank disaster,” she said. “Also, Fountain City has been, and remains, a stable community. Our neighborhoods continue to be strong and continue to attract residents. Businesses follow rooftops.”

What’s more, Malone said a sense of community pride is keeping Fountain City strong.

“It also helps that Fountain City prides itself on having a sense of place, a clear identity. Fountain City residents support Fountain City businesses. We like doing business in our community,” she said.

John Fugate, Commercial Bank vice president and president of the Fountain City Business and Professional Association, said new residents are coming to Fountain City, drawn by a slower pace, strong community and good schools.

“I really think people in the North Knoxville area are beginning to resist going out west because of the traffic,” he said. “There are a lot of people moving into the Fountain City area, homes being rehabilitated and new homes being built. I think people are beginning to see that Fountain City is a wonderful, livable place, more affordable than West Knoxville and not as hectic, and I think businesses are beginning to see that this is where they need to be.”

Plus, pro-business leadership and lots of people traveling Broadway each day certainly help. When construction is finished at the intersection of I-640 and Broadway, Fugate thinks even more growth is in store. He’d like to see more business and storefront rehabilitation north from Hotel Avenue, though.

“I’ve seen the metamorphosis that’s taken place over the last 10 to 11 years,” he said. “I’m really proud of what’s happening in Fountain City.”

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