Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
Weekend edition February 10, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Get ready for a brand new Lakeshore Park

By the spring of 2024, the 185-acre park in West Knoxville will have a whole new look as leaders renovate, redesign, and connect the park to more people across the area.

People in Knoxville love to be outside.

Whether that’s on the river, on a greenway, in the mountains, or in a park, part of the draw of this region is the natural beauty it holds.

One place in Knoxville that combines all of the above settings into one is Lakeshore Park. With miles of walking trails, scenic views of both the Smokies and the Tennessee River, sporting fields, and ample open green space, the park in West Knoxville attracts people from every edge of the city.

“I really think COVID helped us see how important our public open spaces are and how valuable they are not only to economic development but also to mental well-being,” said Julieanne Foy, Executive Director of the Lakeshore Park Conservancy. “Thankfully, people see how important it is to care for these spaces.”

Taking care of them also means taking them into the future. That’s what’s happening now as Lakeshore Park gets a major facelift. If you’ve visited lately, you’ve seen the dirt turning and had to turn around because of trail closures. But Foy said it’ll all be worth it.

“We really feel like all these improvements are really going to touch everybody in some way,” said Foy.

That list of improvements is expansive. Let’s dig in.

All baseball fields will be relocated near the Northshore Drive entrance to the park.

“The biggest thing that we’re trying to accomplish with this phase of construction is getting all of the athletics in one area of the park,” said Foy. Avid parkgoers will notice it’s been some time already since some baseball fields closer to the river were cleared out.

“If you’ve ever been here on a Saturday or Sunday during baseball season, you know that it really impacts parking and traffic through the park. So moving the baseball fields over to the Northshore Drive side of the park is really going to improve users’ accessibility to different areas of the park.”

That will put four baseball fields all next to each other in one section of the park. Foy said there will also be a fifth “challenger field,” which can be used for a variety of sports and even private parties and events.

Along with those baseball fields will be a new fieldhouse, complete with a concession stand and space that can be used for event catering. Event rentals bring in a good amount of money for the park, which is privately owned and funded.

A new parking lot is being built in that area, rerouting the stretch of walking trails that ran alongside Northshore Drive. Foy said that trail will be moved deeper into the park for pedestrian safety, and to be out of the way for a potential future widening of Northshore.

So what happens to the baseball fields that already exist? When the four new fields open, the remaining ones will come out to make room for something pretty cool.

“That property has some of the most beautiful views and we really want to take advantage of those,” said Foy.

They’ll do that by adding an open lawn and band shell for outdoor concerts and events. That will set a designated concert area with a great backdrop of water and mountains.

This isn’t the only construction going on with the views in mind. If you’ve been to Lakeshore Park recently, it’s hard not to notice the giant dirt mound in the middle of the park.

It’s referred to n the master plan as a “sculptural mound.”

The sculptural mound will have walking trails on top and below.

“It is the most spectacular view from the top because you can look out behind you and see the river and the mountains, and then you can look all the way up through the park,” Foy said. “It’s just a beautiful view.”

That sculptural mound has walking trails on top of and below it, with a great lawn in the middle. To the east of the mound, the existing open greenspace will become a warm-season meadow. Those types of meadows typically contain different types of grasses and wildflowers.

To the west of the sculptural mound is the Hecht Pavilion, where the concession stand, parking lot, playground, and bathrooms will be renovated.

On the far end of that parking lot backing up to the soccer fields will be a new outdoor fitness area with different types of exercise equipment, including a functional fitness rig.

The park has become a popular place for fitness groups and personal training,” said Foy. “I really think it’s going to be a great addition to the park.”

The kiddos are getting some new amenities, too. A new playground will be built near the new baseball fields and bigger than the two existing playgrounds. It’ll have play pods with age-specific activities, so the equipment will cater differently to smaller and older kids.

In a wooded area near the Lyons View Pike entrance of the park, a new woodland playground will be constructed.

“Most of the play equipment will be natural,” said Foy. “There will be an inverted tree and tree tunnels to crawl through and a huge slide coming down an embankment into the wooded area.”

A new pavilion and garden will be located across from the baseball fields.

Back near the Northshore side of the park, an outdoor basketball court and pickleball courts will be constructed across from the new baseball fields. Above the courts will be a hilltop pavilion surrounded by gardens, along with additional parking.

Several more miles of sidewalks and walking trails will be added to Lakeshore Park, connecting areas that were previously not accessible without leaving the trail.

Sound like a lot? It is. The massive improvement undertaking is possible thanks to $35 million in private funding, with additional funding from the City of Knoxville for roads, parking, and drainage improvements. Foy said they’re projected to finish everything by spring 2024.

Lucky for us, there’s a conservation easement on the property, so these 185 acres will always be a park. Lakeshore Park remains free and open to the public thanks to the nonprofit Lakeshore Park Conservancy, which takes care of the park and enhances is for the future.

“It’s such a gift to the city,” Foy said. “These improvements will make a better park for everyone to enjoy.”

Lakeshore Park is a unique joint public/private partnership between the non-profit Conservancy and the City of Knoxville. Founded in 1996, the Conservancy has spearheaded all of the projects that have enhanced the Park’s beauty.

Like what you've read?

Forward to a friend!

Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No, thanks!