A Look Inside Baker Creek Bottoms

Newest South Knox project breaks ground, to begin construction this month

A Look inside Baker Creek Bottoms, a mixed-use development geared toward outdoor enthusiasts

First announced in autumn of last year, formal plans for Baker Creek Bottoms, a multi-faceted community development in South Knoxville, were revealed earlier this month. A groundbreaking ceremony took place on August 18, and construction is set to begin before September. The complex is poised to serve as the gateway to the Urban Wilderness, and its individual businesses combined promise to be a one-stop shop for all things visitors to the area will need and want. Slated to open in the spring of 2018, BCB marks the next step in the city’s evolution south of the river.

A veritable showcase of entertainment, hospitality and food services, BCB will include a hotel, brewery, restaurant, coffee shop/juice bar/bakery, bicycle rental shop, performing arts center, music venue, meeting spaces and more – adding an exciting new wave of recreation options to the ever-expanding south side.

We recently met Thomas Krajewski and Tom Weiss at the lot BCB will call home, where we got to hear a bit about their vision for the combined 80,000-square-foot development. Krajewski and Weiss, along with Michael Wood (principal broker of Wood Realtors and a lifelong South Knox resident), are the forces behind the enterprise located where the old Sevier Heights Baptist Church sits, and they are thankful to have the support of multiple sources around Knoxville.

A public meeting in October 2016 was encouraging to Krajewski and Weiss because of the overwhelming support from the surrounding residential communities. Then, after their specific property was rezoned from residential to commercial use, BCB received a $150,000 grant from the city’s Historic Preservation Fund in order to help restore the architecturally significant chapel building built in 1939. In addition, growth and redevelopment of the space have been encouraged and aided by the Community Development Department of the City of Knoxville, by the Legacy Parks Foundation and by the South Haven Neighborhood Association.

Blighted storefronts across this section of Knoxville are being reimagined and reinvigorated more and more these days, and BCB will be a welcome addition to what quickly is becoming an impressive roster of local businesses. As the district continues to boom, hopefully the former church will flourish in its new role as a sanctuary for both lovers of the great outdoors and South Knox denizens. The following is a point-by-point breakdown of the project’s components, including insights from its developers.

Bicycle rental shop

One of the first businesses to open at BCB will be the bike rental shop. “Working collaboratively with the cycling community of Knoxville, our goal will be to not be a bike retail shop, but rather a place to rent bicycles for use throughout the Urban Wilderness and the surrounding area,” says Krajewski, who will be the owner/operator of the space.

The shop predominantly will rent mountain bikes of various makes and brands, but it also will carry youth bikes. As the James White Parkway project expands and more road biking becomes an option, the shop plans to rent cruiser bicycles, as well. “We will have something like a weekend pass where renters can access a number of brands to test and see which bikes they prefer,” says Krajewski.

Accessories, nutritional snacks and other related items will be offered, as well. The adjoining cafe space also will be convenient to the bike shop, where riders and explorers will have the opportunity to fuel up before they head out the front door to the trailhead for the Baker Creek Preserve.

Another one of Krajewski’s plans is to create a cooperative with other retail shops in the city. “Our goal is to integrate with the existing Knoxville bike scene,” he says. “The bikes here will not be for sale, so we’ll be able to send buying customers to existing Knoxville-area bike shops and build community that way.” Krajewski also plans on integrating a vocational bicycle mechanical school into the downstairs space where professionals and enthusiasts alike can learn how to build and repair bicycles.

Restaurant, coffee shop/juice bar/bakery

The old chapel will be restored to highlight some of its most beautiful features while being converted into a fully functional restaurant. The upstairs will provide both private and common dining areas totaling up to 7,000 square feet. The developers currently are interviewing local restaurant operators before they settle on a distinctive style. Expect to hear more about this aspect of BCB as construction moves forward.

It should be noted, however, that two stalwarts of the Market Square Farmers’ Market have had extensive discussions concerning the possibility of combining forces and opening a café in the complex. There in the lower level of the former chapel building, they would serve homemade gluten-free baked goods, locally roasted coffee, teas and creative concoctions featuring natural juices.

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