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City officials are hoping to jumpstart redevelopment of the South Knoxville waterfront using special financing methods that will make it easier for developers to close on their deal to purchase the former Baptist Hospital property.

In June, Mayor Madeline Rogero made the announcement that Georgia development firm Blanchard and Calhoun intended to purchase and then demolish much of the old building, rebuilding hotels, restaurants, and luxury apartments in its place.

The Tax Increment Financing deal announced Thursday afternoon will allow for some of the money that would otherwise go toward city and county property taxes to fund pieces of the project instead, such as the public river walk and plaza.

The hope is that Blanchard and Calhoun will be able to speed efforts with banks and investors if they can show some of the money is already in place. The firm previously said they expected to close the sale by the end of the year.

The plan will require approval from both county commission and city council. The Baptist Hospital property is already included in another TIF zone, and this initiative would separate it.

According to the city, the TIF would direct $22 million in new City and County property taxes over a period of 20 years to support this project. They say it is the largest redevelopment project ever considered for tax-increment financing in Knoxville.

The project is expected to break ground next year, and finish by 2017. The city says approving TIF financing does not mean they are liable for any additional expenses should the project fail.

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