There was a day when Elvis was discovered in a tiny record shop on the corner; there were days when Hank Williams played; there were years when farmers sold produce to Knoxvillians.
Market Square, a staple in the historic past of Knoxville, may soon be a place where one may find a University of Tennessee graduate, belly dancers and a wine-noodle bar all under the same roof.
On April 12 a ribbon-cutting ceremony will open World Market2 to the public. But for now, the residents living on the second floor of the West-Trent building await the addition to their lifestyles.
The building resides in the center of downtown Knoxville in Market Square.
Mike Schoenberger, a UT graduate, and his wife, Cheryl, moved into one of the 11 lofts in December and are actively involved in the revitalization of the area.
"We want to stay here and watch it grow and be a part of it," Cheryl said. "The process is slow going."
Market Square is already home to restaurants, gift-shops, art galleries and a bookstore. A variety store is less than a block away, but the couple said a grocery store is needed.
They will soon be living above a wine-noodle bar and performing arts studio.
"There is the possibility of a smoothie bar," said Scott West, the owner of the building. "I would love to see a sushi bar come in."
With bamboo floors, tin ceilings and warm lighting, West said he hopes the atmosphere will appeal to people's senses and encourage business growth.
"The building will be a business incubator for entrepreneurs and artists," West said.
Past the glass doors one may walk down the brick hall to the courtyard, the focal point of the market. On one wall a 42-foot painting of tropical twin waterfalls in the Garden of Eden hangs.
Rather than a depiction of the Smoky Mountains, the tropical scene was chosen to depict a broader cultural appeal. It is the largest painting in the region, West said.
"World Market2 will represent a world culture," he said, "while Market Square represents a regional culture."
While completion of World Market2 is underway, West and his wife continue to support the revitalization of Market Square with other businesses including Preservation Pub and Earth to Old City.
Earth to Old City was once located several blocks north of its current location. The store was moved to act as a catalyst for revitalization, West said.
For those citing parking as a hindrance of growth in the area, West said plans to construct a 700-space parking structure is underway.
"Hopefully it's tastefully constructed," he said.
The history of the area is a vital part of the area's appeal, West said.
"These buildings are the ghosts of our history."
Published: Wed Apr 07, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 06:02 p.m.