Mayor: Remaining McClung warehouse to be torn down

The remaining McClung Warehouse structure in downtown Knoxville will be torn down, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero told city council members Tuesday night.

The mayor pointed to public safety concerns as the reason for the demolition, telling city council members razing would take place by the end of the week.

"It's heartbreaking for all of us to lose these historic structures," Mayor Rogero said in a release. "But we anticipate that a structural assessment will show that the remaining building is too damaged to safely preserve."

The remaining warehouses caught fire on Saturday, nearly seven years after a fire destroyed three of the warehouse buildings.

The mayor, who toured the McClung fire damage on Monday, said demolishing the buildings was a matter of public safety first, but preliminary discussions with the structural engineers indicated preserving the buildings would likely be far more expensive than what the city wished to pay.

Roger said the city remained committed to redeveloping all the properties it owns on Jackson Avenue.

Those who fought to keep the warehouses standing, say they are disappointed to lose the historic structures.

"It really was the perfect storm that destroyed these buildings," said Kim Trent, Executive Director of Knox Heritage.

"We're grateful for Mayor Rogero and her administration for trying to step in the last few months and try to save them, but they really were the victims of a perfect storm since '99," Trent said. "With an irresponsible landlord and political grandstanding that happened about seven or eight years ago with the property rights issue, then the great recession, and then finally, humans who like to start fires."

Trent said Knox Heritage will support the redevelopment of the McClung property, but has high hopes for its future.

"We just hope that when the community comes together to talk about this site, that they will put in the guidelines [rules] that's worth a project preserving in a hundred years -- something we're proud to display to everyone in town driving I-40, and is really in keeping with the history of the city and the scale of the downtown area," she said.

"We're hopeful for really positive, new development there."

City officials remained hopeful a developer or developers would be able to assume ownership of the properties by the end of 2014.

Officials said that would be preceded by a public input process and the city issuing a "request for proposals" from potential developers.

The city took ownership of the buildings for $1.45 million in November 2013 after a long legal battle with the properties' former owner.

10News calculated a rough estimate of the warehouses costs to the city since the first big fire.

Fighting the fire in 2007 costs nearly $1 million, most of that attributed to water usage, manpower and supplies.

Before the city acquired the property, it had to deal with a lawsuit. That process cost $1.45 million, in addition to more than $100 thousand for an outside law firm that partnered with the city during that effort.

City officials and firefighters will not have a cost estimate for Saturday's fire until they finish their investigation. KFD Captain DJ Corcoran said, whatever the number is, he expects it will mostly reflect the amount of water and manpower used that day.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment