Fort Sanders- Knoxville’s Student Neighborhood

This evaluation includes just the Fort Sanders neighborhood and excludes any part of the University of Tennessee campus.

Fort Sanders is named for a Civil War-era Union bastion that once stood near the center of the neighborhood. Development came to Ft. Sanders in the late 19th century as a residential area for Knoxville’s growing upper and middle classes. With the advent of the automobile in the 1920s, Knoxville’s wealthier residents began to move to the suburbs and urban neighborhoods such as Fort Sanders began to decline. After World War II, UT grew significantly from 2K to 30K and by the 70s most of the homes in the neighborhood were converted to student housing. A few Victorians have been saved reminding one of what the neighbor used to be.

Due to its density and convenience to Downtown, Ft. Sanders is one of Knoxville’s better urban districts. But it has some real deficiencies including poor urban form along the main drag, Cumberland, lots of surface parking lots, poor bike infrastructure, less than inspiring architecture, and underwhelming retail amenities. But the district does have decent public transit & walkable schools in the area, a good array of moderate housing options (including many condos), several nice parks, and good cultural amenities. As the neighborhood is so college dominated, I don’t see this realistically being a family friendly place. But if urban amenities were improved and more quality housing provided, I can see it being an attractive place for young professionals and maybe empty nesters.

Click here to view my Ft. Sanders album on Flickr


* The district by far has Knoxville’s best density.
* Great access to Dwtn being only a mile away.
* Quality connectivity and decent public transit options.
* Decent schools options including a great public high school, several smaller private schools an ok rated grade school just north of Fort Sanders.
* Lots of rentals available at reasonable prices. 1-beds lease btwn $700-1K, 2-beds $900-$1,500, and 3-beds anywhere btwn 1K-2K.
* Lots of modest 1-bed condos selling in the 100K & 200KS. Some newer ones selling around 350-450K; lots of 2-bed condos selling anywhere from 150K-600K depending on age and condition; 3-beds btwn 250-600K. Condos on the lower end and SF more expensive; 4-beds SF homes anywhere btwn 350K-650K. Overall not a ton of SF for sale homes but so
* Ft. Sanders is generally pretty safe but a good amount of theft thanks to its location as a student neighborhood.
* While the urban massing isn’t great along Cumberland Ave, the Streetscaping is high quality.
* Good pedestrian activity thanks to student population but could be better if Cumberland Ave was more vibrant.
* Several nice parks on the edges of Ft. Sanders including the expensive World’s Fair Park, the large Sansom Sports Complex and a couple smaller parks.
* Good cultural amenities including many restaurants & cafes (college focused), several bars & night clubs, a couple live music venues, several art Museums (UT and Knoxville), several theaters at UT and easy access to Dwtn cultural amenities.
* Decent retail amenities including a couple grocerias, several drug stores, plenty of banks, a couple clothing stores, a UT book store, several dessert places, a post office, several UT libraries, a major hospital complex, and several churches.


* Bike infrastructure is surprisingly not that good in Fort Sanders.
* As this is a college dominated neighborhood, pretty poor diversity. Some racial diversity but less than one would expect for a college area and less diverse than North Knoxville.
* Some nice historic SF homes and apartments but much of it has been leveled or is unattractive student housing. Historic commercial along Cumberland is gone.
* In-fill is a mixed bag. Lots of student apartments on residential streets but often tacky design or lots of parking. Some good urban in-fill.  Some good mixed-use urban in-fill along Cumberland (the main drag) but plenty of autocentric commercial and tacky design.