Leon Williams Contractors will help answer the call to expand your church

We are putting the final touches on what will be, by seat count, Blount County’s largest church. The planned grand opening of the new 33,000-square foot facility at Foothills Church is set, appropriately, for the Easter season. The previous location will serve as classrooms and a learning center for children.


The church has had a number of rebirths, and we’ve been there along the way. It started in a school, then moved into a former arcade and entertainment center. Each time, church leaders felt the call to expand. The need for a larger facility was obvious and quantifiable; three services occur every Sunday.

While church leaders often feel called to expand to accommodate their flock, there are some very down-to-earth principles to follow before embarking on a major renovation or expansion.

As part of our process, we guide congregations throughout preconstruction planning and the design-build phase, but here are some things to consider before proceeding with a new church:

  • Develop a master plan. Don’t just think about the next step, but consider the next 30 years. Articulate a vision. Do you want to offer a family-life center? Have a commercial kitchen? Open a school? What are your anticipated square-footage needs? Having a vision for the future can justify the first step toward expansion or a whole new church.
  • Conduct a car and head count. It might seem as if you have good turnout, but numbers don’t lie. You are going to need this information when it comes time to plan a new sanctuary or auditorium. From these numbers you can project how many people are attending and how your congregation travels to your building. This can also help justify any variances or approvals needed from municipalities to allow the project to proceed.
  • Identify a feasible site. You probably don’t want to move across town, but does the proposed site accommodate the new structure or expansion, have adequate parking and landscaping and provide good egress or ingress? We designed a traffic circle for the Foothills parking lot because of one sole entry and exit point.
  • Keep infrastructure demands in mind. Many churches use a lot more power these days because of auditorium-style services, audio-visual equipment, musical performances and the sheer size of the facility. Make sure you have access to an adequate power supply. The same goes for sewage needs. Don’t plan on too many bells and whistles if you want to open a large church in the country.

We have built and renovated churches throughout East Tennessee. If you feel the calling to expand, contact us and we can help every step of the way.

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Leon Williams Contractors can handle site selection and accompanying challenges

We can navigate the complications and variables of where to locate your business

Dairy Queen - Maryville Tennessee - Leon Williams Contractors

When it comes time to choosing a site for your East Tennessee or Knoxville-area restaurant, retail shop, clinic or church, we are sure you are aware of the “three Ls:” Location, location, location.

While this is a prime and obvious consideration for virtually any new commercial construction, there are other things to take into consideration before committing to a project location, including building size, visibility, taxes, site access and parking.

Leon Williams Contractors’ preplanning and consultation services and design-build approach can limit the headaches involved for business owners wanting to construct a new business or expand an existing one. Here are five things we keep in mind.

  1. Building size: Is the site large enough to accommodate your building? It could appear so, but you must take into account other needs, including parking, storm water detention, required setbacks, buffers, signage, and other features such as a deck or patio.
  2. Visibility: This is obviously a function of location, but is not necessarily based on how much vehicular traffic passes by the site. Pedestrian traffic is a factor, too. There are location analyses available, but one surprising rule of thumb is to locate near competitors. This means there’s an established pattern of people coming to the area for a similar service.
  3. Soil and Environmental: Many sites may appear to be a great spot for your new business, but what is not as evident is what could be underground. Sites can have environmental issues that may require remediation such as contaminants in the soil or hazardous materials in existing buildings. Other concealed concerns with sites can be soils that are unsuitable for typical foundations, sink holes, and bedrock.
  4. Site access: Just because a business is sited next to a busy roadway doesn’t mean automatic big paydays. If ingress or egress to your location is difficult, that could sink sales quickly. Avoid complicated intersections or sites from where it’s difficult to make a left turn or otherwise enter the roadway. Depending on the road classification, proximity to intersections, and other governing requirements, the number of access points may be limited. Limited access can cause problems with deliveries, drive-thru queuing, and general circulation on the site.
  5. Parking: Many municipalities have formulas of varying complexity determining how much parking must be provided for various types of businesses or services (for instance, one parking spot per 200 square feet of retail building). There are also ADA requirements to keep in mind for handicapped parking, and some local governments even require landscaped medians and a set number of trees. The rules can get even more complicated if municipalities govern or limit the extent of impervious surfaces.

Building and opening a new office or shop entails much more than hanging a shingle and opening your doors. Site selection is but one step in the complicated journey toward planning and opening a new business. Our construction preplanning services and design-build approach can streamline the process so you can get on with the business of raising your profile and running your business.

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Leon Williams Contractors Tapped to Build Out New Dining Spaces for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
LeonWilliamsContMaryville, Tennessee-based commercial design-build firm hired to create three new dining spaces for the new West Campus Housing building at UTC

MARYVILLE, Tenn. – Jan. 26, 2018 – Leon Williams Contractors, a Maryville-based commercial design-build firm, has been contracted out to help build three new dining options for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s new West Campus Housing, including an Einstein Bros.® Bagels, Dippers and a Provisions on Demand (P.O.D.) quick-serve store.

“The new West Campus building allows for a more traditional-style housing to foster a feeling of community,” said Dr. Dee Dee Anderson, interim vice chancellor for student development. “These new brand offerings will be a terrific addition for the students who live in the building, and for our campus as a whole.”

The dining spaces Leon Williams will build out take up roughly 6,500 square feet of the 231,000 square foot building and offers some unique challenges.

“This project is somewhat unique in that we are completing a project inside a project,” said Jimmy Hawkins, president of Leon Williams Contractors. “We are working alongside the contractor building the main building to complete the interior dining area which means there is additional coordination to connect our systems to theirs and keep the systems from conflicting with each other. Another challenge is that all of the plumbing underneath the dining space will run through a parking garage, which requires additional work to ensure that all piping is insulated and heated in order for them to flow properly.”

This marks the 13th project Leon Williams has done with UTC, and construction is set to begin in early February. The dining spaces and the new West Campus Housing building will be open to students for the 2018 fall semester.

About Leon Williams Contractors
An experienced commercial design-build firm, Leon Williams Contractors simplifies the building process by effectively managing costs, adhering to deadlines and reducing complications to provide a seamless building experience. As a value-engineering expert, Leon Williams Contractors offers a complete range of services including pre-construction consultation, site assessment, design-build expertise and construction management in the greater Knoxville, Tenn. area.

For more information, visit or call 865-982-1734.


Heather Ripley
Ripley PR

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Leon Williams Contractors’ design-build experience positions us well for the future

Here are five construction trends to look for in 2018

Efficiency is more than a buzzword to us. Our design-build model vastly streamlines the construction process in multiple East Tennessee construction sectors, including church, retail, restaurant and medical construction.


It seems the entire construction market is catching on to the need to streamline projects from the design to building phases. Efficiency – from preconstruction to modular construction – is top of mind in many predictions of top 2018 construction trends.

Here are five trends to look for in the construction sector in 2018:

  1. Growth rates will vary by sector, but overall nonresidential construction, which we specialize in, will grow about 3 percent in 2018. That growth could be higher or lower, of course, depending on everything from the final structure of federal tax reform to whether long-awaited infrastructure spending will materialize on the local, state and federal fronts. Interest rates remain low, and if corporate tax cuts proceed, that could arguably inject more capital into the economy.
  2. Increasing costs of supplies and labor will prompt construction companies to further identify cost-saving measures. Our economical design-build and value-engineering model is ahead of the curve, and look for more companies to adopt this approach. We already have years of experience with this method, and we cut costs, not corners.
  3. Technology will continue to drive and enhance our design-build process. From project management reports via smart phones to 3-D design methods and active use of social media, we will stay on top of these tech trends to better communicate and plan your project from beginning to end. That’s yet another hallmark of our proven design-build process in East Tennessee.
  4. Technology will also continue to drive safety improvements. As the construction market roared back to life in recent years following the Great Recession, injuries and fatalities at construction sites increased, too. We follow strict protocols at every job site to ensure our employees and site workers are working as wisely and safely as possible.
  5. Look for more state and federal programs to teach construction fundamentals to younger generations to address a labor crunch in the construction market. In Tennessee, that includes Tennessee Promise, a scholarship program geared toward getting more adults a secondary education, including vocational training.

The prognosticators may not be perfect, but one thing is clear as we head into 2018: It’s going to be another great year for our design-build construction company in Maryville, Knoxville and elsewhere in East Tennessee. Contact us today  for more information.

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Leon Williams reflects on East Tennessee design-build highlights of 2017

From Dairy Queen to Which Wich, it was another great year


Thanks to a fantastic crew and clients, it was another great year at Leon Williams Contractors LLC!

We worked on campuses, in shopping centers and in cities across East Tennessee. We put our design-build talents to work on restaurants and retail, and have a raft of projects to focus on in the coming year. We will continue to aspire to being the best design-build firm for our customers in the retail, franchise, worship and restaurant sectors.

As we look forward to 2018, let’s pause for a quick look back at some of our most notable achievements of 2017.

  • We rang in the new year with the finishing touches on a new Dairy Queen Grill and Chill on West Broadway in Maryville, bringing the iconic burger and ice-cream destination back to Blount County. The project, built from the ground up, was contracted by Fourteen Foods, the leading franchisor of Dairy Queen restaurants.
  • We partnered with Studio Four Design to construct two new Which Wich Superior Sandwiches restaurants, one in Alcoa and one in Fountain City. We worked with franchisee Jeff Hensley to bring the unique restaurant to Alcoa, and it opened its doors in April. The Fountain City location, also operated by Jeff Hensley, has been serving patrons since June.
  • We built the new Sleep Outfitters, a division of Innovative Sleep Solutions, on Foch Street in Maryville. This brings a range of mattress brands and top sleep specialists to Blount County consumers. Check out a time-lapse video of the store construction
  • We designed and built three new food-service options for students, staff and the public at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. We were contracted to build a new Panda Express, a Steak ‘N Shake and a Provisions on Demand, a new concept in campus food services.
  • We also remodeled the Thompson-Boling Arena dining area. Food options at Thompson-Boling now include Which Wich, Bento Sushi, Grab n Go salads and sandwiches and the Southern Kitchen hot bar. This was the 22nd project we have done for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • We were still grading the site and finalizing building plans at the end of last year, but we were able to bring Foothills Church in Maryville out of the ground this year and are excited for its completion in 2018.

We owe yet another year of success to the dedication of our partners, clients and employees, and we wish you and your family a prosperous New Year. Contact us today for information on how we can help you meet your design-build needs in 2018.

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