Andrew Johnson Building in Knoxville sold to hotel developer

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — The historic Andrew Johnson Building in downtown Knoxville, also known as the AJ Building, is finally set to be redeveloped after it was officially sold by the Knox County government.

This is a story WATE has been following since 2007 when former Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale asked former Knox County Schools Superintendent Roy Mullins to consider the idea.

There have been setbacks over the years ranging from the pandemic to lack of funding to the task of moving things out of the building. But with all of that now in the past, the responsibility of one of Knox County’s most historic buildings has now passed to real estate development company BNA Associates.

“We closed on the AJ Building and that is now in private hands and we’re looking forward to seeing what they do with it,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs.

Included in future plans are 143 guest rooms, multiple food and beverage venues, and a billiards room. There is also a name change planned with the AJ Building to turn into the “Hotel Americana.”

“It’ll be a boutique hotel and should be an anchor for tourism and other development on that side of downtown,” Jacobs told WATE.

The AJ Building’s new owners intend to return the building to its former glory as a hotel, offering comfort, nightlife, and a dynamic music scene. Renderings show multiple stages and seating areas as well as guest rooms that feature kitchenettes and other long-stay necessities.

The final product is expected to combine the building’s history with modern luxury.

“You look at some of the other boutique hotels that we have in town and this one will be really special because it does provide that historic element.”

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs

In addition to expectations of glamour, many people have high hopes for the hotel’s impact on Knoxville revenue and tourism.

“It should be an anchor for that side of downtown,” said Jacobs. “Hopefully all along that corridor now we’ll see more development with the AJ Building driving that going forward.”

When it comes to dollar amounts, the project is not going to be cheap. Developers have released a renovation cost of $34 million. At last report, the project is set to be completed by 2024.

Editor’s note: WATE has contacted BNA Associates, but has not received a comment.

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