Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

J. W. Rochester

Committee Members

Walter L. Sherman, James A. Spencer


A problem which exists in many cities today is the abandonment of railroad depots. Re-use should be considered both by the railroad industry and cities. If the property is to remain vacant or underused, there may be an unfavorable effect on the surrounding uses. It is the purpose of this thesis to determine the economic feasibility of re-use of the abandoned Louisville and Nashville depot in Knoxville, Tennessee. A case study was conducted to determine the highest and best re-use for this parcel of land. The main assumption is that the architectural quality of the shell of the structure will be preserved, and this will limit the re-use of this depot.

The methodology used in this thesis narrowed down the potential uses by examining the characteristics of the site and the surrounding areas and determining what families of uses would be compatible. Each proposed use was evaluated according to location criteria, and a summary of the sales and expenditure potential of Knoxville's trade area was stated to determine the economic feasibility of the proposed uses. Next, an income flow analysis for retail and office space was established to determine the capitalization rate on investor's equity. This rate of return was compared with alternative investments.

Information for this thesis was obtained from interviews with railroad officials, planners, realtors, and investment consultants. Planning studies for the Knoxville Metropolitan area were reviewed as well as literature pertinent to the subject.

The survey of the site and surrounding planning units established five proposed families of uses. These proposed re-uses were: industry, residential, institutional, retail and office use. The examination of the proposed uses in regard to location criteria eliminated the following uses: 1. Industrial use was eliminated because of the high property cost, property taxes and restoration costs, plus the availability of other suitable industrial sites. 2. Residential use was not feasible because of the structural character of the building. 3. Institutional use could be possible if a particular use could be established that would not require interrelationships with other public uses.

The income flow analysis established that retail use was not desirable because of the high capitalization rate and the lack of sufficient parking. A mixture of office and retail use was evaluated and determined to be economically unfeasible because of the low capitalization rate. Office space has been established as the highest and best use for the property. This use would be compatible with the surrounding uses, and meets the location criteria with few exceptions and yields a capitalization rate favorable to alternative investments.

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