BY: JESSICA GUTMAN

It’s not a hard choice.

Whether you’re seeking a new place to call home, selecting a location for your business to thrive or simply looking for the perfect vacation destination, Knoxville is the city for you. Its growing population demonstrates that people from all over are attracted to its moderate climate, breathtaking scenery, vibrant culture and booming economy.

The diversity of its people and recreational activities is only matched by its eclectic collection of neighborhoods that suit any style of living. West Knoxville is home to the largest population concentration and more established neighborhoods like Sequoyah Hills, Bearden and West Hills. However, closer to the city’s urban core lies unique, up-and-coming neighborhoods that continue to attract young professionals, families and retirees.

In the heart of Knoxville lies downtown’s industrial-chic and contemporary lofts and condos, many fully restored with modern amenities yet maintaining original charm. Conveniently located near shops, restaurants, bars and theaters, downtown residents enjoy urban living with countless activities just outside their doors.

Just north of Downtown Knoxville, Fourth and Gill, Happy Holler and Old North offer lovely historic homes, walkable streets and quaint, cottage-style gardens. The neighborhoods are growing steadily with trendy businesses including coffee shops, breweries and maker collectives opening in the area.

Across the Tennessee River lies the developing South Knoxville waterfront and Island Home Park, an inviting neighborhood featuring primarily bungalow-style homes. This area is also the prime destination for outdoor adventure lovers with access to Ijams Nature Center and the Urban Wilderness.

The greatest testament to the excellence of Knoxville’s neighborhoods are the residents who call them home. We talked with some locals living in these emerging neighborhoods to see what they love about their communities, what makes them special and the types of housing and entertainment options available there.

DOWNTOWN KNOXVILLE

Resident: Hannah Blackwell, co-owner and pharmacist at The Phoenix Pharmacy & Fountain

Blackwell_Family

Hannah Blackwell, her husband Brad, and one-year-old son Bo live on the 400 Block of Gay Street in the Phoenix Building.

WHERE DO YOU LIVE & WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO MOVE THERE?

My family and I live in The Phoenix Building on the 400 block of Gay Street in Downtown Knoxville. We lived downtown three years ago and absolutely loved it. Not long after my husband Brad finished his MBA at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, we were expecting our first child and thought we might want a little more space. After moving we still found ourselves traveling down there most weekends to enjoy the entertainment and activities, and it didn’t take us long to realize we would like to move back downtown. Once the opportunity to purchase the Pharmacy became available, we immediately started looking for places. It just worked out perfectly that the apartment above the Pharmacy became available a month after we started.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT LIVING IN DOWNTOWN KNOXVILLE?

That we have (literally) a 10-second commute to work each morning and evening. We live on the third floor and work on the first floor. Aside from that, we love that we’re within walking distance of basically everything we could need. This area has so much to offer, and we love being a part of this unique residential community and supporting the downtown businesses. Not to mention, we haven’t moved my car in over six weeks!

DESCRIBE THE HOUSING OPTIONS AVAILABLE DOWNTOWN.

There are great housing options close by for nearly everyone. There are lofts and apartments in the immediate downtown area that range from cool and urban to charming and full of character. We love that every downtown space seems to have its own unique view of the city. However, just a short trip across the Henley Street Bridge in South Knoxville there are some great neighborhoods near the water and a lot of great developing areas. Also, we absolutely love the Old North and Fourth and Gill neighborhood houses. They’re so beautiful and unique.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN DOWNTOWN KNOXVILLE?

There is never a shortage of things to do downtown, but my first answer would be: eat! There are so many great restaurants and bars downtown that we definitely take full advantage of. Honestly, though, it is hard to mention just one thing because there is always something new and fun going on. Raising a little one downtown is especially fun because there are so many festivals and events taking place that we love being able to experience so easily. My husband and I both are truly in love with the downtown area. We would recommend downtown living to anyone. We’re excited by the growth we see happening here and feel fortunate that we are able to be a part of it. Lastly, if you do happen to live in or near downtown come see us at The Phoenix Pharmacy! We’ll take great care of you (end shameless plug).

NORTH KNOXVILLE – FOURTH AND GILL

Resident: Jason Thompson, saxophonist in Frog & Toad’s Dixie Quartet

Jason_Thompson

Jason Thompson lives in a historic home in the Fourth & Gill neighborhood with his wife, Mary June.

WHERE DO YOU LIVE & WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO MOVE THERE?

My wife and I live in the Fourth and Gill neighborhood, just outside of downtown. My wife actually bought the house when we had just started dating in 2010. The historic nature of the property, the beautiful architecture, the vibe of the neighborhood as a whole, as well as the proximity to downtown, were all big draws.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT LIVING IN FOURTH AND GILL?

Fourth and Gill is a friendly, vibrant community with people from all walks of life: young professionals, students, artists, families and retired people. It is one of only a handful of designated historic districts in Knoxville, which makes it unique in that most people who live here have a passion for and commitment to keeping the historic details and charm of the neighborhood alive. The wide sidewalks connecting this neighborhood with other surrounding neighborhoods, the old growth trees and being in easy walking distance to downtown, Old North and the Old City–including two of my regular gigs– are all very appealing as well.

DESCRIBE THE HOUSING OPTIONS AVAILABLE IN FOURTH AND GILL.

There are actually a wide variety of housing options in the neighborhood. Some of the homes have been converted into apartments or duplexes, and there are a lot of options for single-family houses as well, both to own and for rent. You can find everything from smaller, one-story bungalows to massive three-story homes, including Craftsman, Foursquare and Queen Anne-style homes, as well as some homes designed by famous Knoxville-based architect George Barber.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN FOURTH AND GILL, AND WHAT IS IT KNOWN FOR?

Fourth and Gill is probably most notable for its concentration of Victorian-era homes and commitment to historic preservation. The neighborhood association sponsors several annual activities that are open to all residents, including a Porch Hop in the summer, a Halloween costume contest and chili cook off, a holiday open house and a home tour every spring, which is open to the public. There is also a monthly potluck dinner to meet and mingle with your neighbors.

SOUTH KNOXVILLE – ISLAND HOME PARK

Resident: Tommy Smith, vice president of marketing strategy at Ackermann Marketing & PR

Smith_Family

Tommy Smith, along with his wife Jamie and their children Carter (4), Avery (2) and Carter (2), lives in the Island Home Park neighborhood in South Knoxville.

WHERE DO YOU LIVE & WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO MOVE THERE?

We live in South Knoxville in a neighborhood called Island Home Park. The houses date back to the mid-19th century, which provides a lot of character to the neighborhood.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT LIVING IN ISLAND HOME PARK?

Island Home Park is special to us. Every other month neighbors gather for “porch hops” where we visit on the porch of one family, and then walk to a second home to do the same. Holidays are filled with family fun. Families gather together each year for an Easter egg hunt, the July Fourth parade and picnic, lighting of the neighborhood park Christmas tree, backyard fires and jumping in leaves in the fall. Neighbors lend a hand to one another every day, and we cherish the friendship that surrounds this community.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN SOUTH KNOXVILLE?

Our community is full of outdoor fun with walking and bicycle access to schools, parks and local businesses. There are so many options to get out and play, including walking to Downtown Island Airport (DKX) to watch the planes take off, bicycling in the Urban Wilderness, climbing at Baker Creek Preserve at Suttree Landing Park, exploring trails and ponds at Ijams Nature Center, kayaking and swimming at Mead’s Quarry, picnicking at Fort Dickerson Park and exercising at South Landing Crossfit. When we need to get downtown, we easily bicycle across the Gay Street Bridge.

Although we enjoy easy access to downtown restaurants and amenities, we also have great, new community businesses near us. We enjoy food and drinks with friends at Alliance Brewing Company, Landing House, Trailhead Beer Market, SoKno Taco Cantina and Honeybee Coffee. Nights are also filled with multiple food truck options for dinner.

We’re excited about South Knoxville and the overall connectedness of the community. We value the diversity of people and options for enjoying activities with one another.

Article originally published in the 2018 Choose Knoxville Relocation Guide. Click here to read the full publication.