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KCDC approves Western Heights transformation plan after 15-month planning process

Officials said the next step of the plan is to apply for a $40 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods grant in February.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville Community Development Corporation has approved plans to expand the number of affordable and mixed-income housing units in the Western Heights area, as well as create new parks, green spaces and buildings.

It is called "Transforming Western," the name of many plans to further develop the western Heights community. Officials said that the process is expected to take around 15 months to complete as officials work with residents and other stakeholders in the area.

According to officials, the area has 440 KCDC housing units, which are given to people with low incomes. There are also has more than 1,000 privately-owned parcels of land.

The plan will turn the area into a mixed-income community, according to officials. The plan calls for unpainted brick buildings to be demolished and new housing to be rebuilt, while painted brick buildings will be renovated, some with new shutters and new porches.

During an Oct. 19 meeting, officials said people who may be displaced by the construction would be given the option to return to the Western Heights community and would get support. People will be able to return to new housing units if they want to, officials said.

"While any unpainted brick buildings will be torn down, any resident who wants to return to Western Heights would be able to do so, and they will get support to do so," said Ashleigh Walton during the meeting, who worked on the plans.

She also said that people would not need to move twice, as much as possible.

The plan was developed through extensive community input which included 19 virtual meeting options, 116 resident surveys, 241 neighborhood surveys, nine monthly meetings and many community events.

One plan for the community included building an overlook at a Hillside Park and an art walk alongside neighborhood retail space. Officials also discussed creating a path to Beaumont Magnet Academy along with new playgrounds and amenity spaces.

Crews recently broke ground on a new Headstart facility in the community too, at the intersection of West Oldham Avenue and Reed Street. The facility will cost $5.4 million, according to officials.

Construction of the facility is expected to be completed in late 2022.

The next step of the plan is to submit an application in February for a $40 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods grant that would help fund the plan, along with additional funds from donations and local governments.


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