Growing up in North Knox County, I knew little about the south side. South Knox was the mostly rural area you passed through on your way to the Smokies, not a vibrant scene.
Times have changed.
Visit Knoxville dubs “SoKno” one of the city’s “emerging hot spots.” Home to dozens of restaurants, cafes, coffee houses and breweries, the area’s diversity is best exemplified by the 1,000-acre Urban Wilderness and its 50 miles of trails for hikers and bikers.
But city developments tell only part of the SoKno story. There’s much to crow about south of the Tennessee River, and District 9 Commissioner Carson Dailey has his finger on the south side pulse.
“Things are moving,” Dailey says, and he’s happy to tell you about it.
A much-anticipated project on the horizon is Covenant Health’s $20 million dollar outpatient medical facility at the intersection of Chapman Highway and Mountain Grove Drive.
Work should begin in the first quarter of 2022. Dailey says it will bring a welcome medical resource to the community.
Creswell Landing on Chapman Highway is one of the newer retail developments. The site contains a Salsarita’s restaurant, Freddy’s Frozen Custard, Firehouse Subs and a Sports Clip barber shop.
The commissioner is justifiably proud of the facilities at Bower Field. The community park hosts baseball, softball and tee-ball fields as well as a playground.
Dailey said Fire Station 2 on Chapman Highway has been upgraded. The station has also acquired a new engine.
The commissioner is a walking resource for planned (or hoped for) road and highway projects.
For example, Highway 33 from Blount County to downtown could use widening and turn lanes. He adds that the four roads leading into downtown Knoxville, Martin Mill Pike, Maryville Pike, Sevierville Pike and Neubert Springs Road could all use improvements.
Dailey stays busy enough with commission duties, but he’s very familiar with South Knox schools.
“Like everyone else,” he says, “we have a teacher shortage.” He quickly adds that the principals and teachers are “great.”
People make a community, of course, and the community is growing. Highland Ridge is a new residential development of 210 homes that will accommodate some of the growth.
It’s tempting to nominate Dailey as “Mayor Dailey” of South Know County for his knowledge of the community. Not only would modesty prevent that, but the commissioner points out that he meets with Tommy Smith, District 1 Knoxville City Council member, once a month and understands that the city has its own south side.
Smith’s council district, lying south of the river, overlays a part of Dailey’s commission district. The city and county share the Urban Wilderness.
If you haven’t checked out the SoKno area lately, take a ride down Chapman Highway. There are a lot of changes to see and more on the way.
Larry Van Guilder is a former editor, reporter and columnist for Knox TN Today. He’s back after a prolonged absence.