First Tennessee Plaza
The First Tennessee Plaza, or Plaza Tower, is an office high-rise located at 800 Gay Street in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. Completed in 1978, the 27-story structure is Knoxville's tallest building and an iconic part of the city's skyline. The building was originally known as the United American Plaza, with its current name being adopted in 1995 to reflect its anchor tenant, First Tennessee.
The First Tennessee Plaza occupies the entire block bounded by Gay Street, Main Street, State Street, and Cumberland Avenue. The building rises over 300 feet (91 m), contains 455,000 square feet (42,300 m2) of office space, and sits atop a 393-space parking garage. A courtyard flanks the building's southwest corner, at the junction of Gay and Main. Along with First Tennessee, tenants include the Brunswick Boat Group, Sea Ray Boats, several high-profile law firms, and Club LeConte, the latter occupying the 27th floor. The Retail Plaza boasts several restaurants including Brown Bag, Downtown Deli, Best Bagel and Prime Time Hotdogs.
The building was originally built as office space for the United American Bank, which was the cornerstone of the banking empire of Jake Butcher (the adjacent Riverview Tower was built by the City & County Bank, headed by Butcher's brother, C. H. Butcher). After the FDIC raided Butcher's banks in November 1982, United American collapsed, and Butcher was eventually convicted of bank fraud. In 1983, the Plaza Tower was sold to Chicago-based real estate investment firm JMB Realty for $28.5 million. First Tennessee moved into the building in February of the same year.
In 1994, JMB merged with Heitman Properties, and Heitman assumed management of the Plaza (although JMB retained ownership of the building). After a $500,000 renovation in the mid-1990s, JMB sold the building to Jackson, Mississippi-based investment firm Parkway Properties in 1997 for $29.2 million. In 2007, Parkway sold the building for as part of a $50 million portfolio to the Brooklyn-based North Development Group, an umbrella firm representing several New York-based investment companies.
- "Former Plaza Tower Gets New Name," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 13 September 1995.
- Parkway Properties, Inc., First Tennessee Plaza. Retrieved: 16 June 2010.
- Josh Flory, "City's Tallest Building Sold for Tall Price to N. Y. Group," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 12 July 2007.
- Bruce Wheeler, Knoxville, Tennessee: A Mountain City in the New South (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2005), pp. 167-168.
- Jerry Dean, "Plaza Building Being Sold," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 28 August 1997.
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