Northeast survey reveals desires, needs

Nick Della Volpe
Features columnist

The online survey of business availability in Northeast Knoxville is entering its final week.

Your voice is important and we want to hear from you. Please invest five minutes to complete the survey monkey questionnaire – there are just 9 questions – so we will have a decent database to help launch a successful Economic Summit for the northeast quadrant this fall. The Chamber and Leadership Knoxville have said they will join us in that effort. So will the four BPAs active in our area.

Sneak Preview: Here is how things are looking based on the first 100 respondents’ opinions we have received.

Over 60 percent of you say you shop mainly at the East Towne business district and along the Broadway corridor. Less than 35 percent identify West Town and Turkey Creek as their main choice.

That’s not surprising. We live in the East or Northeast part of the city and would rather shop and support businesses in our own backyard. If our survey could reach folks from the outlying areas in Knox County, as well as Grainger, Union, Campbell and Jefferson counties, not to mention South Knoxville, I bet that north-and-east local business numbers would be even higher. Who needs the traffic and hassles of the west side if you can find what you need out here?

Over 65 percent of the survey respondents thus far assert that more retail is needed out here. Where are the developers and entrepreneurs? Opportunities abound for restaurants and bakeries to higher quality clothing stores, especially for women – you know the majority who really control the purse strings in America – and other retail.

More and better restaurants were specifically identified as a need. Personally, I end up braving west traffic occasionally to visit a Bravo Italian or Carrabas or Hard Knox pizza, just to sample some varied flavors.

Meanwhile, locals stand in line on the weekends to get into Aubreys, Puleo’s or a nearby steak house. The Habaneros brothers have recently added a second restaurant just to handle the daily flow.

Chefs, where are you? Bistro yourself out here.

Many of the respondents identified greater health care as a need they would like to see fulfilled. That varies from walk-in clinics and women’s-care or child-care centers to a full service hospital.

We have been short-changed ever since St. Mary’s (now Tennova) decided to chase the fatter insurance policies out west. Countless people have identified the old (caring) St. Mary’s as the place where they or their children were born or a loved one had surgery and attentive post-op care. The days of the good Sister hauling in one of Peyton’s passes have waned.

Other respondents cite the need for greater care facilities to treat Alzheimer’s or dementia-related illnesses. They say UT services in that regard are backlogged and thus hard to access.

Without attempting more than this short survey glimpse right now, I will say that some respondents want to see more pedestrian-friendly roads, a cleaner and better run mall (wake up Simon and your salvage holding company W.P.Glimcher!), as well as more family-run local businesses. Perhaps the Magnolia corridor revamp will jumpstart the effort there. The city engineers need to make upper Broadway easier to traverse by car and on foot, and so on.

Meantime, please log on to your computer and take the survey. You can spare five minutes. The internet link is: surveymonkey.com/r/KCMR9X9. You can also reach it from my Facebook page.

We’ll close that survey portal next week. Act now. Don’t just sit on your hands. Let’s take charge of our future. Let the Summit begin!

Nick Della Volpe is a lawyer who represents District 4 on the Knoxville City Council.
Reach him at ndellavolpe@gmail.com

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