By Mike Steely

If you are new to Knoxville you’ve probably familiar with Cumberland Avenue and Kingston Pike, the one-in-the-same street that runs from downtown all the way to Farragut and on to Loudon County.

Driving west from downtown, past the churches and stately homes in the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood, you’ll enter Bearden as you drive down the hill and encounter that long commercial strip of businesses. The heavily traveled and shopped street might give you the impression that it’s all restaurants, shops, banks garden shops and supermarkets.

However, Bearden is quite a vibrant neighborhood with nice homes and a very active neighborhood association. The Bearden Council is one of the more active groups in the city and is known to speak out often with their concerns.

Terry Faulkner heads the Council which represents various groups and people in the Bearden area. The Council often partners with other organizations, like the Fort Sanders Homeowners Association or the regional Community Forum to bring their concerns to the planning commission and city council.

One of their current concerns is the lack of space for new residents as there are very few vacant lots available. For that reason the group is supporting or spearheading the effort to establish a mixed-use zone in part of their community  to get more residents and make the neighborhood ideal for retiring people who could live and shop there without having to use a car.

The Council is behind the efforts of a local developer, Tony Cappiello, to establish a “mixed use” zoning in part of their neighborhood. Cappiello, who purchased the Bearden Antique Mall and, with the Council’s support, closed part of the Ben Atchley Street, wants to build a complex that will have retail on the first floor and have residents on the upper floors.

The idea was to come before the Metropolitan Planning Commission recently but has been postponed until March.

The Bearden neighborhood is roughly bordered by I-40 to the north, Lyons View and Northshore Park to the south, Tobler Lane and Washburn Road to the east, and Northshore to the west.

Mrs. Faulkner told The Focus that the Bearden Council needs to have the amendment passed to make it possible for the neighborhood to grow. She said that the proposed complex, at Homberg and Mohican, would bring much to the area.

“We’ve been preparing for it, the infrastructure is in place,” she said.

She said the group worked with Aldi’s on the façade and the company agreed to construct a sidewalk at the rear of the store which would link with one being planned by Cappiello for future condo dwellers there.

She also said they have worked with the new El Charro’s restaurant on Sutherland to get a sidewalk from Sutherland to the business and to plant trees there.

“The main focus right now is the (Everly) park and fund raising,” she said. She added that the Council is looking at efforts to rehabilitate Western Plaza Shopping Center.

Currently the proposed mixed-use in the Homberg area is saddled with a commercial only zone.