Meeting Set to Discuss $500,000 Historic Preservation Fund

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Meeting Set to Discuss $500,000 Historic Preservation Fund

Posted: 07/17/2014
July 17, 2014 - Interested in historic preservation? Come to a public meeting on July 29 to share ideas on how a new $500,000 City of Knoxville fund can be best used to help save and restore historic structures and sites.

The forum will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 29, at the East Tennessee History Center, 601 S. Gay St.

Mayor Madeline Rogero proposed the $500,000 fund to address some of the City's most difficult preservation challenges, and City Council approved it as part of the 2014-15 budget.

Becky Wade, director of the City's Community Development Department, will lead the discussion at the July 29 meeting. Her department - which is already involved in preservation projects through several existing programs - will be administering the new historic preservation fund.

"We know that protecting and redeveloping historic properties is crucial to the character and vitality of our neighborhoods and our commercial districts. We already have some very good tools in place, such as the $100,000 in continued funding for the 'demolition by neglect' program and our blighted properties revolving loan fund, which stands at about $150,000 right now," Wade said.

"But we know there are some gaps, some needs that we haven't been able to address. So it's exciting to have this newly created fund available and to be able to talk with the community about how to best apply these resources."

The blighted properties revolving loan program has been used successfully in historic neighborhoods, such as Parkridge. Developers or property owners who qualify can get a no-interest loan, make needed repairs to a dilapidated or condemned house, and then either sell it or get a conventional mortgage once the structure is brought up to code. The loan is then repaid in full, with the money returning to the fund to help the next applicant seeking to fix up a neighborhood eyesore.

The Community Development Department also has managed the City's commercial façade program, which over a seven-year period has distributed $3.3 million to qualifying businesses and developers, who in turn put about $10.3 million of their own money into their properties - typically, older properties. (The appraised value of the properties enhanced by new facades increased from about $7.2 million to $19.3 million.)

The "demolition by neglect" ordinance allows the City to order repairs on endangered properties with historic designation, and to perform the repairs and bill the property owners if the owners fail to comply. But emergency stabilization only protects against demolition - it doesn't provide direct assistance to property owners trying to do a rehabilitation of a building.

"We want the new historic preservation fund to give us flexibility to help as many property owners as we can, over a long period of time," Wade said. "We want to hear ideas and priorities from people in the community to help us design this program."

Anyone needing a disability accommodation in order to attend the meeting should contact City ADA Coordinator Stephanie Brewer Cook at least three days in advance of the meeting at 865-215-2034, or email her at

If anyone needs an English interpreter, contact Gwen Winfrey in Community Development at 865-215-2290 or at at least five business days before the meeting.