Basically Blount 2018 8 Maryville DOWNTOWN MULTI-USE CITY CENTER WELCOMES YOU HOME By Mitch Moore In the 1970s and ’80s, the down- towns of small-town America shriveled as the nation succumbed to mall fever. During the past couple of decades, however, these all-but-forgotten districts have found new life as businesses have rediscovered the many advantag- es of relocating to city centers. Maryville is no exception, with an urban footprint that boasts unique shops, thriving commercial ventures, highly-rated restau- rants and multiple entertainment venues. And with that resurgence, more and more residents are finding that downtown is also a place they can call home. A loft- apartment development, reno- vated apartment spaces above downtown business fronts and a senior-focused high rise have been early signs that the trend toward downtown living is only gaining momentum. “We’ve been seeing more of a demand for this kind of space, particularly with Millennials who like to live closer to where they work. We know that shift is tak- ing place,” says Maryville City Manager Greg McClain. “The city has been working with various developers about the possibility of building more apartments and condos.” Such a lifestyle can be advanta- geous, especially for those who relish the idea of being able to walk to work, municipal services, nightspots, special events and recreational amenities like the Maryville-Alcoa Greenway. Stu- dents at nearby Maryville College are already among those who take advantage of the short walk to downtown. McClain points out that down- town Maryville offers several par- cels that would be favorable to hotel development. One possible market: local corporate head- quarters that frequently welcome business travelers who want to distance themselves from the immediate airport district while remaining within easy reach of the Smokies. “It would be a travesty to come here on business and not take a day to go to the mountains,” McClain notes. “It’s also estimated that as many as 2 million leisure travelers pass through Blount County each year on their way to the national park, so there’s defi- nitely room for those who want to stay in a downtown setting with restaurants, shops and places like that.” The continued growth of central Maryville’s business district has only enhanced the appeal of both permanent and short-term residency. According to Charlene DeSha, executive director of the Downtown Maryville Association, that synergy of businesses and residents contributes to a thriving small-town urban enclave. “There’s a lot of opportunity with downtown living,” DeSha says. “The library and the college are nearby, and the Greenway is right there, so you can walk or bike almost anywhere in town. It’s a big draw for people who want to get in some exercise on their lunch hour. It makes for an easy, carefree lifestyle.” The Downtown Maryville As- sociation is the local partner for the National Main Street Center’s Main Street America program, which works with organizations and leaders at the local, state and national levels to protect the his- toric character of towns all over the country. “Main Street America helps revitalize older and historic commercial districts and build vibrant neighborhoods and communities,” DeSha explains. The big picture for downtown Maryville is coming into focus. “We have a lot of plans in place,” says DeSha. READYTOWORK