Mayor Advocates Tabling Expansion of Parkridge Historic Overlay District

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Mayor Advocates Tabling Expansion of Parkridge Historic Overlay District

Posted: 11/14/2017
See statement below from Mayor Madeline Rogero about the proposed expansion of the H-1 historic district overlay in the Parkridge neighborhood. The expansion of the district was approved on a 6-3 vote by City Council on first reading at its Nov. 7 meeting, but it remains a divisive issue in the neighborhood. It will be up for second reading at Council’s Nov. 21 meeting.

    “I have spoken with Council members, and like me, many of them are uncomfortable with the continued level of distrust and disagreement among different factions in the Parkridge neighborhood on the value and benefits of the proposed H-1 expansion. As a result, I am recommending that Council members table the expansion of the Parkridge H-1 district and the proposed revisions in the district design guidelines at their next meeting on Nov. 21. The debate has raised a host of separate but related questions that need to be resolved through constructive community dialogue.

    Those questions are troubling enough that Councilman and former Mayor Daniel Brown, who represents the area and initially asked for the study of the expanded district, ended up voting against it. He supports giving time for further discussion, and that position is shared by Gwen McKenzie, who will become the district’s new Council member next month.

    There is no question that preservation of existing houses and buildings is crucial to the character and identity of our older urban neighborhoods. My administration will continue to work to protect those valuable and often endangered structures. Unfortunately, the heated discussions around this proposed expansion, which would triple the size of the existing H-1 district in Parkridge, have amplified rather than allayed fears about the possible impact on low-income residents and property owners in the neighborhood.

    The proposal for the expanded historic district came initially from the Parkridge Community Organization to City Council, and then from Council to the Metropolitan Planning Commission. MPC worked earnestly on this over the past year, and its thorough research on the history and character of the neighborhood should serve as a foundation for further discussion of historic preservation options there. The hard work of neighbors on all sides of this issue can also help inform future dialogue.

    Going forward, City staff are ready to work with City Council and all neighborhood residents, businesses, and property owners to address the wide range of issues affecting Parkridge. 

    For many years, the City has been investing in East Knoxville neighborhoods to support affordable housing and protect local housing stock. As we make major investments in infrastructure along the Magnolia Avenue corridor, it’s even more important that we address issues of affordability and equity. There is great opportunity in this area, and by working together we can insure that improvements and investments are a benefit to all. 

    We need to work together toward identifying a common vision and common goals. Historic preservation brings many benefits to a community, and it will remain an important priority in that conversation.

    For all of those reasons, I am asking Council members to vote to table both the expansion and the proposed revisions in the design guidelines.”

NOTE: When an agenda item is tabled, it can be added to a future agenda only with a majority vote of City Council and adequate public notice.