Proposed Cumberland Avenue changes upsetting business-owners, UT students

The Strip will not look the same in the coming years; four new apartment buildings and a ten-story parking garage are in the works for Cumberland Avenue.
The Strip will not look the same in the coming years; four new apartment buildings and a ten-story parking garage are in the works for Cumberland Avenue.
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 9:21 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Strip along the University of Tennessee campus will not look the same in the coming years; four new apartment buildings and a 10-story parking garage are in the works for Cumberland Avenue. The changes are causing a stir among some.

Louie Albaba, the owner of Oscar’s Restaurant, has operated on the Strip for decades. He said he’s concerned about what the changes could mean for businesses, given the construction plans state businesses like Mellow Mushroom and Taco Bell will be affected.

“When we started here there was a lot of foot traffic actually,” he said. “You know all of the students. This used to be the fun place for all of the students on Cumberland.”

But now, with plans of changing four blocks of the Strip with more than 800 apartments, Albaba is concerned for what it may bring.

“One of the owners across from me came and she talked to me and she was kind of really upset and she doesn’t know where to move her store to,” Albaba said. “And I feel for that, you know? And thinking when is it gonna be my turn next? You know? That’s a big question.”

City of Knoxville documents show some of the buildings will have commercial areas on the first floor with apartments above them. UT student Bryce Parker said this plan takes away from the Strip as he knows it.

“I don’t like the changes they’re bringing to Cumberland,” he said. “I think it ruins the magic that is this place. I think this is a place for college students and people that live around the area to go get food and go out to the bars and do those fun activities. I think putting in a ton of apartment complexes and residential areas kind of ruins what is Cumberland.”

The developer, Core Spaces, plans to offer housing for students, staff and medical professionals. For Albaba? He’s asking his customers to remember he’s still there.

“For all the students — we’re here. Remember we’re still here. We’ve been here for 20 years to serve all the students, University of Tennessee, the Vols so we’re still open.”

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