East Knoxville Gentrification: Giving Away the Neighborhood

Opinion : The Voice of a Concerned Citizen

I am speaking on the systematic way we gave away the community. This is not an overnight deal. Everything from the I-40 Smart Fix, which made the East accessible by Summit Hill and Cherry St. In doing, businesses moved and didn’t come back. Ironically, the Gun Zone moniker was attracted and never left.

Every politician that claimed to represent us,  since Danny Mayfield, was Pinocchio and their financiers Japeto. The coup was the expansion on Recode Knoxville. Not one fought for the community. The clergy and churches are guilty too. They preached the doctrine of pie in the sky and got hell on earth. They lacked the vision and practical sense to encourage sound biblical financial teaching.

Next to CEC, is Community Place designed and built to strengthen the community. To my knowledge, no other religious institutions have though of or implemented a bold and successful plan to begin the wealth building process. This community is poor. The 42% poverty level is not shocking. There has not been a single business to move into the community that paid a living wage. None. However again, they moved out, most notably Levis on Cherry Street.

The infrastructure non used has crumbled, the potential of the people untapped. And not a single politician solicited outside of this area for new businesses. As Charles DeBro from KCDC stated in a Metro Pulse interview over 10 years ago, their plan was to disburse the criminal element in housing projects, most notably my childhood home Walter P Taylor Homes.

They finally did but much like the ‘Ville’, many people took the funky $2,000 and left and didn’t even try to obtain the knowledge required to preserve or get back the value, which is the East. The malaise and ignorance was astonishing. In 1987, we were living the apex of the community after the first gentrification wave to build the coliseum.

Of the 179 business that were there only 1, Jarnigan and Sons, survived, then the crack game hit hard! It created junkies and prisoners and a whole generation of kids that was essentially left without guides, tools and the skills necessary to get from point A to B. Nothing in the past 20-30 years is exclusive, everything is a plan. It was easy for them. From a practical standpoint, there was no place to expand downtown but East. UT to the West, the River to the South, old North Knoxville and their business and residence knew the game and hunkered down.

Not us. We went along, to get along. And the place I knew is and will be gone. I apologize for this appearing incoherent and no indentation but I’m not by my notes. But the failed grocery store, the removal of any drug store, the two city council candidates (one is who making a killing off real estate at her office on Magnolia to the other that is a slum lord front for a pill mill operation in South FL). The new condos, yards from Austin Homes that have the tax money not allocated for Green but Sequoyah. I could continue. It’s a dirty game and everybody is guilty of playing, by omission and commission.

Sydney Clinkscales is a resident and proud native of East Knoxville. He attended Austin East High School and Knoxville College.

20 thoughts on “East Knoxville Gentrification: Giving Away the Neighborhood”

  1. All truths, however, when do we as East Knoxvillians get back in the running. When do the ones that have the knowledge, come home and teach our youth how to play the game and win. East Knoxville is a source of pride for so many of us and yet we allow others to continue to tear down our reputation and present us as the uneducated criminals, prostitutes, thugs, and gangsters. When do we get to the business of rebuilding our homes and creating and growing our own businesses? We need movement not lip service.

    1. I have lived in East Knoxville all my life raised my children and now my grandchildren I completely agree with everything you are saying we have hard working people in our community we aren’t all drug dealers prostitutes and everything else said about us . I want to know when our community leaders in office are going to stand up for us we have no restaurants, shutting down everything on Magnolia. I remember when Magnolia was booming with great places to eat and the talk about moving the Fair and the Zoo somewhere else is ridiculous wanting to take everything away from our community. Thank God we still have Pizza Palace then the City will repair our streets and sidewalks and half do it leaves it looking like a unfinished job . I Love our community but we have no one in City council that will take a stand for our community.

    2. Latisha i agree with you and most of the east knoxville residents comments on thus thread. Its all about education and economics in industry sectors that offer solutions to resolve our community issues.
      We have too many people in our community who just have jobs to make ends meet. We now live in a time and era where we can learn alot about LAND AND REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT AND REDEVELOPMENT online for free.


      yes i am one native in the industry, but it needs to be at least 100 citizens that learns some form of land acquisition, asset and property management….OWNERSHIP OWNERSHIP.

  2. Believe it or not, back in 87 when I join the military after high School; I came home one year, I believe it was 88 or 89 and I told my best friend at the time that there’s a wave coming to East Knoxville and most of the people here aren’t going to see it or notice it. I said when you start seeing Street lamps go up with old homes being rebuilt with white men and women jogging through East Knoxville and walking their little dogs in the morning and evening you will then be able to see what I can already see. He laughed at me of course as we road in the car from the airport back to my mom’s house. I told him that its going to spread like wildfire and most of the residents are going to be gone and never come back. The businesses are going to be closed down that you used to know and they’re never coming back. It’s going to become so unaffordable to live on the east side because our people are selling their homes and businesses for pennies on the dollar. We’re leaving and selling large two-story Craftsman homes with huge porches and 4-5 bedrooms for less than $30,000. The others are moving in rebuilding fixing up the places raising the prices and reselling them for $100,000 to 200,000 or more. I told him to hold on to his property and never sell because a wave has started to wash away the old established residents of East Knoxville and you won’t be able to buy back. I saw it first hand in San Francisco and Oakland while I was living in Cali. This is the real meaning of staying WOKE! Thank you for bringing this to all of our attentions, my brother. I love you man.

  3. Wow! I have been telling people this. Thinking I’m some crazy conspiracy theorist, they ignore me. I am interested in the 15k grant to buy a home on this side before the value skyrockets (even more than it already has). Thanks for the article.

    1. I lived, in East knoxville; 1983 thru 1984, from liberia and attended; knoxville Business college, I believe, it was located on the south side of knoxville. There, weren’t any jobs; in East knoxville, or the jobs were in west knoxville. One thing; East knoxville had: were proud black people, in their own homes. Is, MCcalla club still there on; MCcalla st.Why, will they sell their beautiful homes, into gentrification. Live in, Boston now; same thing happening in the black neighborhoods of Boston, massachusetts : Gentrification of our neighborhoods!

  4. Sydney you are so right! But the people in East Knoxville are so blind to the gentrification. You try to tell them what is happening and they fight against you. Thats why we are always struggling to get ahead in this city. Wake up black people!

  5. Abso-freakin’-lutely. So there is data to back up that THIS happens. What is being described here is an anecdote about ~our~ town. One that reinforces what we already know about the process of gentrification.

    I’d add that certain elements of the government (local, state, and federal) understand and understood the outcomes of gentrification for minority communities (especially communities of color). The private sector and ruling regime profited from the first wave of gentrification (even though a good deal of it started [in Knoxville and elsewhere] with the Great Society).


  7. Piggy backing on this comment, truth be told we lack alot of skills and knowledge in our neighborhood, we aren’t having enough community meetings, flyers that need to be distributed, informative announcements on the radio stations, we to reach out to black businesses in other states to come in and purchase properties, bring in revenue, bottom line there’s more than one way to skin a rat, remember those saying, what worked back then can work now. There are several black owned businesses posting on Social media everyday reach out to them let them come and survey the place get with Mrs.Thompson and get busy. We don’t have to let East Knox go down with out a fight. Clinkscales call a meeting

  8. Lonsdale, Western Heights, and Rule high school are on the chopping block next. The City’s already turned Western Avenue into a freeway.

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