May 9 2019
09:19 am

After signaling his intent last year, local restaurateur Mike Chase has picked up a qualifying petition to run for Knoxville Mayor. Guess he's still pissed off about the Cumberland Ave. project.

Rachel's picture

Not really official until he

Not really official until he turns it in.

R. Neal's picture

Good point.

Good point.

JR01's picture

Who isn't?

Half the businesses on the strip closed, and the city didn't even fulfill the part of their promise that would have made it halfway decent (burying power lines, bike lanes.) That being said, from what I hear about Mike, he's just a terrible, misogynistic person so I hope he doesn't win.

Rachel's picture

Bike lanes came out of the

Bike lanes came out of the plan very early on. And the power lines were moved to the alleys, IIRC.

JR01's picture

This is true

However, they are still above ground, which makes the power more susceptible to outages. Knoxville is one of the few cities our size or larger that has yet to figure this out.

j.f.m.'s picture

It’s not even remotely true

It’s not even remotely true that half the businesses on the strip closed. I don’t think the turnover there has been any higher the last 5 years than in any previous 5 years. Places have always opened and closed there, and what’s been lost in the period you’re talking about are two gas stations (both replaced by apartments where people will actually live) and a couple of drive-thru fast-food places.

fischbobber's picture


With the exception of a lack of parking for Gus's Good Times Deli, which never really existed in the first place, the strip is much more user friendly. Hint, drive around up there a bit and learn the turns.

Bill Lyons's picture

Cumberland bike lanes and placement of utility wires

As Rachel noted, there was substantial public input at the design stage about bicycle lanes. Given width of the roadway putting bike lanes on Cumberland would have impacted the width of the sidewalk. Lake Ave, one block South is much better suited. Putting the wires in the alleys with existing infrastructure was an easy call with which all stakeholders of whom I am aware approved. Putting them underground would have cost multiple millions for negligible gain. The pictures provide a bit of perspective.

Cumberland Before.

Cumberland Before

Cumberland After

Cumberland After

JR01's picture

The sidewalks are already extremely wide.

Knoxville needs to stop pretending to be this great, bike friendly city when less than 10% of the roads even have bike lanes. Sharrows are *useless*

j.f.m.'s picture

I don’t think Knoxville is

I don’t think Knoxville is pretending to be anything, it’s just trying to get better. Whether it’s sidewalks or bike lanes, retrofitting 80 years of auto-centric infrastructure is expensive and difficult and isn’t going to be accomplished in a few years. And keep in mind that for all the people who want more bike lanes, there are people who complain about having to share the road with them. The most common complaint I see about the current mayor is “she’s spent all her money on bike lanes and urban wilderness.” (Not true, obviously, but both have increased as a percentage of the budget.)

Sandra Clark's picture

Rally 'round the flag

Wow. Mayor Rogero has a current employee, a former employee and the spouse of an employee working overtime in defense of her Cumberland Avenue project. And all under the "Mike Chase" header.

j.f.m.'s picture

Just correcting

Just correcting misinformation Sandra. People say a lot of ridiculous things about Cumberland. I have the same interest in accurate information now as I did when I worked for the city. It is entirely inaccurate to say that “half the businesses on the Strip closed,” or even that a greater number have closed than usual. It simply isn’t true. If people don’t like the streetscape or prefer gas stations to apartment buildings, that’s a matter of personal taste, but the conversation ought to be grounded in facts.

Bill Lyons's picture

Responses regarding Cumberland

"Wow. Mayor Rogero has a current employee, a former employee and the spouse of an employee working overtime in defense of her Cumberland Avenue project. And all under the "Mike Chase" header."

Hi Sandra. As the current employee I will jump in. I can't quarrel with the pattern you described among those of us who responded. But I am a bit flummoxed by the wording and the implication. We all do have a connection, past, present, and indirect, to Mayor Rogero. FWIW I have not discussed this thread with my boss or with the others who responded so she certainly did not "have" us respond if "have" was meant to imply such.

Yes, we all politely corrected fundamentally incorrect comments about Cumberland. I think we would have done exactly the same regardless of the thread title. It was JR01 who brought Cumberland into the Mike Chase thread. I cant' speak for JFM or Rachel but perhaps we responded because we are all very familiar with the history of the project, including the discussions involving removing the overhead wires and the lengthy dialog about bicycles that occurred.

Finally, it is not exactly correct to label Cumberland as Mayor Rogero's project. It was put in place under Mayor Haslam and implemented under Mayor Rogero. I can speak to both the planning and the implementation because I have been in the middle of it from the joint very public planning effort with the hospitals, UT, TDOT and KUB, through the construction and now on the other side of the whole thing.

While I don't comment here as much as I used to I still feel that I should jump in to provide corrections and clarification when it might be helpful.

Thanks, Bill

fischbobber's picture

Out of curiosity......

Have you learned the New Cumberland yet? It is far better suited to the area it serves than the old one was. Knoxville does not exist to serve the needs of McDonalds, it exists to serve the needs of the citizens that may or may notch hose to dine at McDonalds.

j.f.m.'s picture

I do think that anyone who

I do think that anyone who hasn't used the reconfigured Cumberland as a pedestrian is kind of missing the point of it, since the design is geared toward pedestrians.

JR01's picture

It is clearly geared towards pedestrians.

And no, I did not prefer the gas stations, and I currently think there is no place for the drive thrus on the street now that it clearly has a more urban design. However, it is interesting that it’s being marketed as a “destination,” when there has only been one parking garage added to accommodate this to non-students, and I don’t even know if that’s been completed. And I’m not even sure if that’s been completed yet. And yes, I have a problem sharing the road with most cyclists, due to them not following rules of the road (running red lights, requiring the line of cars that had to pass them earlier on having to do so again.) Bike lanes would eliminate this problem.

Bottom line, the Strip is still 90% a current UT student destination due to there being virtually nowhere to park, and we have little to no bike infrastructure. I think our mayor has done a fantastic job with most things, but these are two glaring problems.

Rachel's picture

I have a problem sharing the

I have a problem sharing the road with most cyclists, due to them not following rules of the road (running red lights, requiring the line of cars that had to pass them earlier on having to do so again.) Bike lanes would eliminate this problem.

Actually, no. Cyclists still have to obey the rules of the road (stopping for red lights, etc.) when they're riding in bike lanes.

fischbobber's picture

At night

If one does not compete for parking during M-F business hours, there is actually quite a bit of parking within one block of any given destination, including Gus's Good Time. I'm just getting to the point where walking a block for deli food is becoming less and less a part of my program.

bizgrrl's picture

Hah, you might know better

Hah, you might know better than most where there is parking for businesses on Cumberland. I don't know there is a heck of a lot of difference in accessible parking (or inaccessible) for Cumberland businesses between now and before "the change". Back in the day getting to the Sunspot was tricky (before they moved). Panera was a challenge as well. As was/is access to much on Cumberland.

I really feel for Mike Chase. I can only guess, but I would think his is the longest lasting business on Cumberland. Sales may have been dropping through the years and this project was not helpful at all. If the Copper Cellar was not a long time successful venture with a fairly large company that had the ability to survive the slowdown in business, they probably would not have survived the road project.

I think the project has, so far, given Cumberland and the area a better look. We've driven on Cumberland a number of times, even on busy football days, with not too many delays, no more than before the project. I hope the area benefits from the changes.

It would seem to me that Cumberland businesses cater to UT students and Fort Sanders employees/visitors. It's not much of a destination, never really has been, IMO.

fischbobber's picture

I agree with most of this.

I don't think any of Copper Cellar's issues are directly related to this project though. They are a westbound destination at the dinner hour, able to draw on westbound traffic at suppertime. From what I've seen, his issues are probably far more related to a changing demographic and market around the strip.

And you hit the nail on the head as far as the strip no longer being a destination. When the drinking age was raised to 21, and the landlords raised the rents to the point where young entrepreneurs were better off trying their ideas it other locations, the whole nature of the strip changed. They still keep the head shops open until 11 though, so there's that.

Rachel's picture

Come on, Sandra. I wasn't

Come on, Sandra. I wasn't "defending" anything, just offering info as someone who was paying attention to this project early on (study adopted by Council in 2007), long before my spouse had any clue that a mayor elected in 2011 might ask him to work for her.

Ann Malone's picture

Make Cumberland Great Again

Hmmh, Gotta love the trolls. Queue Mike Chase and Cumberland and we discover a new buddy JR01. JR claims half the businesses closed (lie), wires were not taken down (They were, just not put underground), and that a promise was broken to bicyclists (lie). Meanwhile JR asserts that "Knoxville" doesn't understand the value of underground utilities and again, something called "Knoxville" wrongly claims to be a bike friendly city and should cease and desist. The universal BS detector alarm is sounding. Methinks JR protests the treatment of bicyclists a bit too much and could not tell the difference between a derailleur and a dermatologist. I guess we can expect more as our Trump-lite candidate Mr. Chase, himself a fan of Trump, channels his hero's lack of regard for truth and his attitude toward women.

R. Neal's picture

I think the Cumberland Ave.

I think the Cumberland Ave. makeover is pretty great. It's a pleasure every time we go up there.

Bill Lyons's picture

Making Civic Decisions and Taking a bit of risk

None of us have any problem with those who preferred the old auto-centric Cumberland. While many of us disagree with that view, any fair minded person will acknowledge that it is slightly less convenient to turn into McDonald's and to get to Copper Cellar coming from the West by automobile. It is undeniable that the construction period was very tough for the merchants. Nothing is completely positive for all involved at all times in any project. However we made a community decision regarding an area that was failing for years. The public weighed in throughout and Mayors Haslam and Rogero along with overwhelming, often unanimous support from Council.

Speaking personally, as one who moved to Knoxville to join the UT faculty in 1975 and was often frustrated with the nature of our local politics, I am very proud of our city. I am not just talking about our Mayors and Councils. It is all of those, many participating here, who have resisted the siren song of the cynic in favor of sometimes healthy skepticism and become part of the civic conversation.

We went decades unable to act to deal with the deterioration in and around downtown and our city core. We were frozen in pettiness and small time thinking. Cumberland was a risky project just as our approach to Downtown took risk, as did our approach to Downtown North, the South Waterfront, and now Five Points and Magnolia Avenue. And lest we forget, our commitment to permanent supportive housing was not for the political faint of heart. When we convened a group of people angry about the Fifth Avenue Motel on Fifth and Broadway we got the anger out and then rolled up our sleeves and created what has led to the revitalization of Central, Happy Holler, and now great new projects such as Elkmont Exchange and the Press Room. Cynicism turned to skepticism and then to cautious optimism.

The invigoration of the tax base that has followed has allowed us to invest millions in affordable housing supportive housing along with Knox Area Transit and to work with very generous private donors on key projects such as the soccer fields on the north end of Fort Sanders, the great new community project in Lonsdale, and the Change Center.

While reasonable people will rightly question some of these projects I think we are a much better community for taking them on. The vestigial Political Science part of me is convinced that it is even more important that we are a better community for the high level of public participation and the quality of the discussion on our legislative bodies.

Yes, we are a very different city. We are a better city. I wish the media landscape had not been so eviscerated with the loss of Metropulse and the Mercury and the cutbacks at the KNS. But we do have the Compass, knoxtntoday, and the Focus providing a plenty of coverage and needed questioning and criticism.

fischbobber's picture

Here. Here.

I agree.

cwg's picture

looks like

Chase did not return his petition by the deadline

Sandra Clark's picture

Low bar - 25 signatures

Word on the street is that he filed at 10:30 but didn't have 25 valid signatures. Somebody phoned him and he said he was busy. So noon came and went without a valid petition. It's a low bar, 25 signatures. And speaking of bars, perhaps that's where he found his signers.

Knoxgal's picture

Looking Good

I drove the length of Cumberland threes times this week, each time admiring its improved appearance. The trees are branching out and reaching closer to the sky and the new shrubs and perennials are looking mighty fine. I recommend a trip while the Oak Leaf Hydrangea are in bloom.

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