Six Years Later: The McClung Warehouse Fire

11:58 PM, Feb 6, 2013   |    comments
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Thursday marks the six year anniversary of the McClung Warehouse fire.

Three Knoxville firefighters were hurt as they tried to put out the blaze in Downtown Knoxville near the corner of Jackson Avenue and Broadway.

The building has been mired in legal controversy over the last few years. Its former owner, Mark Saroff, is suing the City of Knoxville and KCDC with claims the two parties worked to hurt the building's property value.

The buildings were handed over to a trustee after Saroff went bankrupt. That trustee's name is John Newton. He has the responsibility of selling the property to pay off investors.

He did not respond to 10News' calls Wednesday. The city also declined to comment on the future of the downtown buildings as they are still in a legal battle with Saroff.

But, Kim Trent, the executive director of Knox Heritage, said she feels the buildings still have promise. They are currently listed on the Fragile 15 list.

"Really, it's been the perfect storm, with an owner who didn't have the capability to do the project and then the fire that devastated half the buildings on the site and now a trustee who refuses to move in order to liquidate the assets," she said.

Justin Cazana, a broker with Cushman and Wakefield said the buildings are an eyesore. He points out whoever develops them in the future will have their work cut out for them.

"It's very close to a very large railroad yard, there's also a road on the other side, so you're limited in what you can do," he said. "It's going to take a very creative mind to be able to put something together, but, luckily, Knoxville has a few of those," he said.

However, developer David Dewhirst says before any work is done, attention must be paid to the infrastructure around the buildings as part of the sidewalk nearby has actually crumbled down toward the nearby railway.

"We just need public infrastructure to be redeveloped and made sound," he said. "So, that when the McClung Warehouse property issue gets resolved, it's ready to move forward."

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