A nine-story, $45 million condominium slated for the future Old Town baseball stadium complex will be named after Knoxville native Beauford Delaney, a black modernist painter associated with the Harlem Renaissance.
The stadium project was billed as a bridge between downtown and East Knoxville, home to many of Knoxville’s historically black neighborhoods. It is also one block from where Delaney’s childhood home once stood.
The stadium site is in an area once known to residents as “The Bottom” before urban displacement from Knoxville in the 1960s and 1970s drove out the predominantly black population that lived and worked there.
Tennessee Smokies owner Randy Boyd and his community development group GEM worked with an advisory committee to ensure the area’s black culture and history are incorporated throughout the project. The development group is also committed to partnering with minority businesses and workers.
“We promised this project would reflect the historic significance of the community and be true to its East Knoxville roots,” EME President Steve Davis said in a press release. “Naming the first building after renowned artist Beauford Delaney and raising cultural awareness is just one step in our efforts to preserve Black history at the stadium site.”
Plan for city views, marble
The Beauford Delaney building, which will be built next to the stadium along the first base line, would include between 35 and 45 condos depending on the final layout. Construction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024.
The timing coincides with the Old Town debut of Double-A affiliate Chicago Cubs, which will change its name to the Knoxville Smokies when the team begins play in the new stadium.
The Beauford Delaney building, which is being developed by Knoxville-based Partners Development, would include underground parking for residents and commercial space on the ground floor for restaurants and retail.
Partners Development is also the project manager for GEM.
The fourth floor of the building would be dedicated to amenities, including an outdoor terrace for watching games and other events at the stadium. Business and fitness centers are also part of the fourth-floor plan, along with fire pits, grilling areas, and a party room.
Upper floors will have marble view units, according to the release, while the second and third floors will have “city view units.”
Selling prices for individual condos have not been determined. Two or three additional residential buildings are planned on the site and will include apartments.
Delaney’s impact ‘cannot be overstated’
Delaney trained in Knoxville and Boston before moving to New York in 1929 to participate in the Harlem Renaissance, according to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He became known for his portraits of well-known African Americans and spent over 30 years living in and around Paris.
“As at home with artists as he is with his neighbors in Harlem or Greenwich Village, Delaney conveyed his undying love of humanity in paintings and drawings ranging from the figurative to the abstract,” reads his biography on the museum’s website.
His childhood home was demolished decades ago and has since been replaced with a historic marker overlooking the stadium site, according to the statement. Delaney’s family then purchased a house on Dandridge Avenue less than a mile from the stadium site and adjacent to the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.
Beck Center President Renee Kesler led the historical and cultural advisory committee working with GEM.
“Beauford Delaney is by far the most important artist of the 20th century,” she said in the statement. “His influence on the art world cannot be overstated.”
More money invested in the stadium
The $74.5 million stadium, which will have a capacity of 7,000, will be state-owned on land donated by Boyd. Construction of the stadium is expected to begin this year.
Boyd has pledged to bring in at least $142 million in private funds to build 630,000 square feet of restaurants, retail stores and residences around the stadium.
“In order to understand what has been lost, it’s important to establish the history of what was once here,” Kesler said. “Randy Boyd and his team are delivering on their promise to preserve Black history and culture within the stadium complex.”