A signalized crosswalk has officially opened for schoolchildren living at First Creek at Austin to safely travel to Green Magnet Academy as a result of a partnership with Bike Walk Knoxville and Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC).
The elementary school, which is located across Summit Hill Drive from the new residential development, serves young children with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programs. The new crosswalk includes flashing lights to make motorists aware of the presence of pedestrians.
“The mission of Bike Walk Knoxville is to make our area a better place to bike and walk for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds,” said Dr. Caroline Cooley, president of the local nonprofit. “Children have to cross four lanes of traffic to reach Green Magnet Academy from First Creek at Austin and return home, so this signalized crosswalk will ensure a safer route to and from school for everyone.”
Community and business leaders, elected officials, First Creek at Austin residents and representatives of Bike Walk Knoxville, KCDC, City of Knoxville and Knox County Schools staff attended the ceremonial “first crossing” to officially open the new crosswalk, which enhances the old one at the eastern end of Lula Powell Drive that did not have signalized prompts to direct pedestrians or alert motorists. The new crosswalk advancements will be advantageous for students at Green Magnet Academy, which holds summer classes in addition to the regular school year.
“The First Creek at Austin development centers on connectivity and creating a true residential and walkable neighborhood with open spaces,” said Ben Bentley, KCDC executive director and CEO. “The crosswalk aligns well with the vision for enhancing the urban community.”
The first phase of the city’s first mixed-income, affordable housing community, opened last spring. Located just east of downtown, First Creek at Austin’s first phase offers 105 total units in one multifamily building and eight smaller townhome-style buildings. Amenities include upscale finishes, fitness center, resident lounge, pet spa, playground and Wi-Fi in common areas, among others. Additional plans include a park, early childhood center, community space and resident gardens.
“A signalized crosswalk enhances the residential community not only for schoolchildren, but also adults and other pedestrians,” said KCDC Vice President of Redevelopment Jim Hatfield, who led the development of First Creek at Austin for the organization. “I appreciate the partnerships and cooperation of everyone to bring this critical safety feature to reality.”
First Creek at Austin Phase 2, which is opening in stages over the summer, will provide 180 units. Phase 3, which is expected to open in 2024, will include approximately 161 new housing units, including 50 supportive housing units for low-income seniors, age 62 and older, in an independent living setting.
In a separate project, the city of Knoxville will make improvements at the intersection of Summit Hill Drive and Harriet Tubman Street. In total, the city invested $14.1 million in sitewide infrastructure support, including utilities, sidewalks and new roads, connected to First Creek at Austin.