Jeff Randolph, the most recent guest brought in by Active Knox for their ongoing speaker series, is president of The Randolph Group (TRG). TRG is a land development company based in Greenville, SC that specializes in residential, urban infill and mixed-used communities. While in Knoxville he spoke to several groups, including an event at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce with elected and appointed officials, a public event, the Recode Knoxville Stakeholder Advisory Committee Meeting, and a lunch event with realtors and developers.
Randolph spoke about the importance of the group’s community development values, which include promoting vibrant neighborhoods, imaginative places, a sustainable impact, and community connections. He also stressed that Knoxville should grow organically and make decisions that are right for the city without trying to mimic another place. More details about each event are available:
- Lunch at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, November 14, with elected and appointed officials from around the region. There were 8 elected officials in attendance, and 14 planning commissioners. There were 35 total, including eight elected officials, 14 planning commissioners, and staff members. The conversation featured questions about whether the type of development Randolph was discussing was feasible for East Tennessee’s topography. He discussed how land planning can be done with the features of the land, by clustering housing on flatter portions of a site.
- The public event Tuesday night at Bearden High School featured a panel to respond to Randolph’s presentation. Panelists were realtor Joe Fox and developer Tim Hill and was moderated by Mary English from UTK's Baker Center. Twenty-six community members were in attendance. Conversation after the presentation focused on the barriers to mixed-use developments in the Knoxville region. There was some discussion about Knoxville’s out-of-date zoning codes and the Recode Knoxville update in response.
- On Wednesday, November 15, the Recode Knoxville Stakeholder Advisory Committee met for a regular meeting featuring Jeff as a guest speaker. It was also open to the public and had 36 community members in attendance. Randolph again spoke about mixed-use developments, but spent more time focused on the zoning code update. A full summary and recording of the event is available on the Recode Knoxville website.
- Wednesday afternoon, there was a lunch and small group discussion with developers and realtors. The conversation was facilitated by Kristy Altman from Leadership Knoxville. In the conversation following his presentation, Randolph mentioned that he sells lots faster when there are a variety of housing types within a development (townhomes, duplexes, detached homes). There were comments from local developers about the challenge of finding banks that will invest in developers that aren't typical for this region. Another challenge mentioned was finding builders willing to try something new.