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Northshore Arisin'

Stephen Kelly, editor




Above and Below: The entry markers and steps into the common area are crab orchard stone, and colored concrete for the path. The piers (sandblasted) and fabricated ironwork include the James Doran Co. logo. Willow oaks line the park boundaries and sugar maple, red maple, Shumard oak, gingko, holly, crape myrtle, southern magnolia, blue spruce and Yoshino cherry dot the park landscape. Photos by CRJA



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Northshore Town Center (NSTC) is a 155 acre mixed-use community under development at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Knoxville, Tenn. This is one of the fastest-growing and most affluent areas of Knoxville and is southwest of the city.






The Northshore Town Center in Knoxville, Tenn. is a development underway that includes two residential communities--The Village and Beau Monde--and a commercial town center. The Village lofts are configured around a five-acre lake with views to the Tennessee River (pictured).


NSTC will feature upscale retail stores, restaurants, service-oriented businesses, offices, residential housing and a variety of open spaces. This new urbanism-style community seeks to combine suburban living with the nearby convenience of traditional downtown elements.

There's been quite a bit of ink lately about the dip in construction, however, the U.S. year-to-date (Oct. 2006 compared to Oct. 2007) put-in-place construction figures reveal that total construction (residential and nonresidential combined) was -2.8 percent. The reason for this negative number is that total residential construction was down 17.2 percent, while private residential construction was down 17.6 percent. Public residential construction, however, was up 19.4 percent.



The Knoxville media reported the developer of Northshore Town Center in Knoxville, Tenn., James Doran Co., nixed a million-dollar offer from a fast-food restaurant here because it didn't fit with the development plan.



So it is good news that at build-out, the Northshore Town Center will feature a mix of over 800,000 square feet of retail space and "Class A" office space and over 800 residences comprised of single-family homes, town homes and condominiums. NSTC has approved 700 residential units; 430 apartment units have been approved; 40 town homes are under development; and 30 single-family homes are under development.






Not your typical median! Here lie Otto luyken laurels, dwarf maiden grass, switchgrass, bugleweed, assorted spirea, shore junipers and black-eyed Susans beneath bosque lacebark elms. Willow oaks on dramatic 30-ft. centers line the boulevard. All landscaping is on a fully-automataic irrigation system.


The Village Northshore Town Center

Northshore Town Village will be an enclave of 120 single-family homes and 150 town homes and lofts configured around a five-acre lake with views to the Tennessee River. The Village is the smaller of two commercial centers included in the Town Center project. The main commercial center will eventually include some half-million square feet of retail and restaurant space and 300,000 square feet of office space.






The rendering of the housing at The Village at Northshore Town Center in Knoxville, Tenn. will accommodate 123 townhomes and 30 condo lofts. Parks and open space areas comprise 2.68 acres of the total 14.30 land acreage of the site.


The Villages section of Northshore Town Center is underway. Two of the first buildings going up in The Village are condominium units located on the upper two floors above first-floor retail and office spaces. Each building will contain 15 residential units, ranging in living area from 834 to 1,432 sq. ft., with prices starting at $199,000. There will be concealing parking areas behind multiple street-front levels.






This small but engaging playground of mostly wood play sets is juxtaposed by dwarf Burford hollies and oak leaf hydrangeas and a thornless honey locust trees, enclosed by a Trex fence. Trex combines reclaimed wood and plastic. The plastic protects the wood from moisture, insect damage and splintering, while the wood protects the plastic from UV damage. Sodded bluegrass and tall fescue add a park-setting touch.


In late Sept. 2007, construction began on the first commercial component of The Village at Northshore Town Center--Building 400, a two story, L-shaped brick structure with a curved front where the two legs of the L join. This will be 32,000 sq. ft of office space above a ground-level of office and retail space. At build-out, the Northshore Town Center will feature a mix of over 800,000 square feet of retail space and "Class A" office space and over 800 residences comprised of single-family homes, town homes and condominiums.



"We are committed to the project (Northshore Town Center) and to bringing the Knoxville community a first-class development where people love to live and retailers thrive."--Shane Doran, president, James Doran Co.



The Villages is an attempt to recreate the "urban lifestyle of yesteryear," a virtually self-contained community in the downtown (literally above the dowtown). The Villages amenities will include parks, plazas, docks, boardwalks, fountains, a jogging/nature trail, plus a clubhouse and pool complex.

The architectural accoutrements at NSTC are trellises, porches, rooftop decks, gardens and stone and ironwork throughout the community. The front porches are meant to encourage neighborly interaction (image that in Southern Calif.!), as are the parks and interactive nature trails.






One of The Village's parks has an unexpected phenomenon--an open throat sinkhole. "Visual cues that interpret the site's historic agricultural context were achieved using vertical elements like way-finding kiosks in the form of barn silos and oversized, animated farm tool sculptures," notes CFJA.


The Players

The developer of NSTC is James Doran Co., a privately-held real estate investment and development company based in Charleston, S.C. The company has long historical roots. The James Doran Co. was founded as a shipping company in the late 1800s by James Doran, a second generation Charlestonian. It became one of the largest shipping companies in Charleston by the turn of the century.






Above & Below: The arbor is constructed of pressure-treated southern yellow pine. All the hardscapes here are crab orchard stone. The building at right houses urban loft residences.
Photo by CRJA







The James Doran Co. focuses on high-end, mixed-use town center developments throughout the Southeast. Company projects under development are in Midlothian Town Center, Richmond, Va., Winter Springs Town Center, Winter Springs, Fla., Downtown Daniel Island, Charleston, S.C., International Festival, Orlando, Fla.

PFVS Architects and Randall-Paulson Architects, Inc., both of Atlanta, Ga., were the lead architects on the project. Looney Ricks Kiss designed the master plan; other architectural firms involved were The Housing Studio and Design Works, PFVS Architects, Inc. Cannon and Cannon did the civil engineering. The landscape architectural firm is Carol R. Johnson Associates, Inc. (CRJA). CRJA is an award-winning landscape architectural design and environmental planning firm of 65 professionals founded in 1959, with offices in Knoxville, Boston and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Beau Monde--Single-Family Homes

Although the Northshore Town Center project was announced in September 2004, it wasn't until July 2006 that the builder began preparing 22 sites for new home construction. Mike Stevens Homes has purchased some 141 lots at NSTC and has built the first 70 single-family homes in the "Beau Monde" neighborhood. Seventy more homes are under construction. Mr. Stevens, a Tennessee native who earned an education degree from the University of Tennessee, turned to home building instead of teaching. He has 33 years of home building experience and was named "2001 Builder of the Year." He served two terms as president of the Homebuilders Association of Greater Knoxville and has been active with Knoxville's Habitat for Humanity for nearly two decades, making trips with Habitat International to build homes in Nicaragua and serving as the organization's president. Mr. Stevens currently holds the position of National Director for the Home Builders Association.






Above and Below: The fountain is within the roundabout along Thunderhead Road, the main entrance drive. The fountain was designed by Wesco Fountains & James Doran Co. (owner) and constructed by Pond World. Valley Crest designed plantings for the fountain and for all the beds. The median has seasonal plantings, Calla lilies are in the foreground (above).







Builders like to affix European appellations to their developments. In Southern Calif., for instance, Italian names are in vogue. "Beau Monde," not really a common phrase in French, could translate as handsome, beautiful or pretty world. Americans learning French generally learn at least one phrase with "monde"--Il y a du monde, which means, "It's crowded." A comical, if somewhat salacious slang phrase is achieved by adding "au balcon" to the phrase. The French name for the project is perhaps appropriate given that the recently elected president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, seeks a closer relationship with the U.S.

There will be a total of 270 residential lots (single family and town homes) in Beau Monde. The single-family homes, which range from 2,233 to 3,564 square feet, offer floor plans of three or four bedrooms with prices starting at $410,900. The three urban loft designs have two-car garages, three-story, 2,200-square foot living space, plus a rooftop garden area (prices starting at $419,000).

Beau Monde might be called a neo-traditional neighborhood or what people might imagine of American towns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries--tree-lined streets, classically styled streetlights, sidewalks and multiple parks whence children play or neighbors gather.

Northshore Town Center home features include tall doors, columns, dormers, covered front porches and brick or stone chimneys. Rear-entry garages will be accessible by alleyways running behind the homes. The idea is to build a community spirit by maximizing neighborly interaction--front porches, parks and interactive nature trails are the incentives. Swimming holes (just kidding, pools) and walking trails will be on the perimeter of the residential area.






Mike Stevens Homes has built the first 70 single-family homes in the "Beau Monde" neighborhood. Seventy more homes are under construction. Beau Monde might be called a neo-traditional neighborhood or what people might imagine of American towns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries--tree-lined streets, covered front porches, dormers, brick or stone chimneys, rear-entry garages accessible by alleyways behind the homes, classically-styled streetlights, sidewalks and multiple parks whence children play or neighbors gather.


Carol R. Johnson Associates, Inc. (CRJA)

In collaboration with James Doran Co. and its team of consultants, Carol R. Johnson Associates, Inc. (CRJA) provided guideline recommendations, design development, construction documents and construction administration for the parks, streetscapes and common areas of Northshore Town Center's residential zones, the initial phase of construction for the planned mixed-use development.






Plentiful wooden benches (Plainwell) along the curving colored concrete pathways of the commons, bordered by red maples, provide plenty of opportunities to sit and chat with neighbors.


"The Village at Northshore Town Center expands on that concept, providing its residents with a similar experience within a village-scale environment," explains CRJA, which provided conceptual landscape architectural services, including the design of an interpretive park and the streetscape for The Village's commercial area, the Northshore Town Center's main vehicular and pedestrian corridor.



"It will be a totally self-contained community," Stevens explains. "You can come home from your office in the Town Center and play all weekend without ever leaving the development."--Beau Monde homebuilder Mike Stevens, of Mike Stevens Homes, Inc.



The signature park offers an arbor-covered pavilion for residential gatherings. Other common spaces include service alleys, access ways, passive paths and youth play areas. A proposed greenbelt trail will feature trailheads at detention ponds with masses of native planting. One of The Village's parks allows the user an up-close experience of an unexpected phenomenon--an open throat sinkhole. "Visual cues that interpret the site's historic agricultural context were achieved using vertical elements like way-finding kiosks in the form of barn silos and oversized, animated farm tool sculptures," notes CFJA.






The park has two opposing arbors, this one overlooking the park and with a view of the Great Smoky Mountains. Plants immediately adjacent to this space include St. Johns wort, liriope, ajuga, abelia, spirea and holly.
Photo by Kristin Hettermann


CRJA was also invited by Mike Stevens Homes, the first residential homebuilder at Northshore Town Center, to prepare several landscape plans for the Beau Monde homes. The Beau Monde neighborhood was master planned by Looney Ricks Kiss (sounds like a name humorist Christopher Buckley might pen for one of his books). LRK followed New Urbanist principles, a subject LASN ordinance columnist Prof. Buck Abbey has addressed several times (see landscapeonline.com). Beau Monde residences include traditional town homes, urban townhouses and detached single-family homes. Each home has narrow or zero-lot lines and individually unique architectural details. Shared alleys give utilitarian access to garages, trash, mail and meters. The landscape plans follow the design guidelines prepared previously by the consultant team, which included CRJA. CRJA's work included planting design, site detailing of fencing, landscape walls, gates and private courtyards.






To further the development's "neo-traditional" aesthetic, acorn-shaped globes (GranVille Premier, Holophane) supply the lighting with reflectors that are said to improve downward lighting. A swing-open door allows lamp replacement without removing the glass.
Photo by CRJA


The Team - Northshore Town Center, Knoxville, Tenn.

  • Developer:James Doran Co., Charleston, S.C.
  • Architect:Jerry Eschman Custom Home Designs
  • Homebuilder:Mike Stevens Homes, Inc.
  • Master Planner:Looney Ricks Kiss
  • Civil Engineer:Paulson Mitchell, Inc.
  • Landscape Architect:Carol R. Johnson Associates, Inc.
  • Landscape Contractor:Valley Crest Landscape Development
  • Fountain Designer:Wesco Fountains
  • Fountain Contractor:Pond World
  • Architectural Illustrator:Christopher Illustration

Northshore Flora






Aster dumosus 'Prof. Anton Kippenberg'







Anemone hupehensis--Japanese anemo







Shumard oak







Yoshino cherry







Scilla siberica--Siberian squill







Galanthus nivalis--Snowdrop







Iberis sempervirens--Candytuft







Ajuga reptans 'Bronze Beauty'--Bugleweed







Myosotis sylvatica 'Royal Blue Compact'







Narcissus 'Bell Song'



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October 20, 2019, 8:19 pm PDT

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