Pressing on

Lofts in Davis Printing Co. building to add more residential living downtown

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Lance Coleman
Senior reporter
Blount Today

In 60 days, another aspect of downtown redevelopment will fall in place. The exterior of the former Davis Printing Co. building will be unveiled as the Davis Lofts.

What formerly housed a printing company will hold nine upscale condominiums. In addition to a new faade and a penthouse deck, all common areas inside the structure will be finished, realtor John Melton said. Melton and Tom Weston of Maryville are developing the condos.

"We’re hoping within 60 days - the whole building will be done except for inside units people have bought," he said. "All common areas will be done, the external work will be done, and it will be ready for buyers to start their construction on the
inside."

The units on the side facing the Blount County Public Library have covered porches that extend out 12 feet from the building. There is no garage in the building. Parking is available for each unit on the McCammon Avenue side of the building,
Melton said.

Melton said four of the condominiums are sold. The condos will sell anywhere from $128,000 to $600,000 for the penthouse. The spaces are zoned both residential and commercial, he said.

"They’re sold as vacant space. That gives the buyer the opportunity to design and build it just the way they want," he said. "They can use Hickory Construction or their own contractor. Some people want open space, some want walls. We leave it to them."

Melton said electricity, phone, cable and plumbing and refrigerator lines, as well as heating and air, are connected to each unit. "They can put a kitchen, bathroom and lighting wherever they want," he said.

Melton said when refurbishing an older building, the cost of each unit is often difficult to determine because contractors don’t know what they’re going to find until they start work.

"The building was pieced together. You can tell from the different colors of the bricks, it has been pieced together," he said. "One thing we were concerned with was making sure it was structurally sound."

Melton said the top floor is a 2,400 square foot penthouse with elevator access or access by way of the common area stairwell. The penthouse also has a 2,000 square foot deck with a screened-in porch. The other condos range from 850 square feet to 1,200 square feet, 1,600 square feet and 1,800 square feet in space, he said.

Standing on the penthouse deck, Melton talked about construction. "We had to raise this floor. There will be black iron
railing, and there will be a gazebo for the hot tub," he said. "It’s got killer views of the city, the library and the Cumberland Mountains."

Melton said Weston bought the building two years ago for $350,000 from Joe and Sandra Davis. Weston was working with an architect while Harper Street Lofts next door were being developed. "I came in with Tom about six to eight months ago. We already had floor plans designed," he said. "We took bids on construction, and Hickory Construction has done an excellent job. They’re good to work with."

Melton said the Davis building has a lot of character. In addition to being home to Davis Printing, the building also housed Primo’s Gym. "We feel it has a little more character than our first building," he said of Harper Street Lofts, which was formerly a parking garage. "We created the character (at Harper Street)."

The Davis Lofts has what the Harper Street Lofts didn’t originally have, Melton said. "This has high ceilings and original brick walls."

Situated on Cusick Avenue between McCammon Avenue and Harper Avenue, Melton said the building is convenient to
downtown.

Melton said the city has been helpful in assisting with utility changes including running water to the building from the street for a new water tap for the building’s sprinkler system. The assistance was part of incentives the city offered anybody developing downtown. Recommendations from the Hunter Growth study included a need for residential development in the downtown area.

Melton said upgrades to city infrastructure have also made downtown living more appealing. "They’ve spent a fortune in walks ways, the bridge (to the library), street lights and in streetscaping," he said. "Streetscaping has promoted a lot of interest in downtown."

Melton said other business owners have also been encouraging to developers trying to bring more residents to the area. Business owners have been patient in dealing with the construction on Davis Lofts, the Harper Street lofts, the work on the pedestrian bridge to the library, the new parking garage between Harper Street and West Broadway and the streetscaping going up McCammon Avenue to Church Street, he said.

"Harper Street has 17 units and all those are occupied," Melton said of the Harper Street Lofts. "There will be nine units at Davis Lofts," he said. "We feel we have a niche. If you love the concept of walking to the park, walking to restaurants; we’ve got everything anyone would want."

Melton said the interest in downtown living is growing across the country and that is helping spur development in Maryville. "Across the country, it’s becoming a way of life," he said. "We’re just at the start of development in downtown."

Teresa Horn, Maryville Downtown Association member, said the group’s mission is to create an environment that allows people to live, work and play downtown. Having more residential units available helps in that goal.

"In a downtown urban environment you need all three for sustainability," she said. "The more people live here, the more
there is a need for retail and recreation."

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