"Active" discussions are underway to find tenants or an owner for TVA's mostly vacant East Tower in downtown Knoxville, TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said Tuesday.
Hopson said he couldn't discuss specifics because of negotiations, but there have been talks with several different organizations.
Those discussions are taking place as Knox County Schools prepares for an eventual move from its downtown headquarters in the Andrew Johnson Building on Gay Street. The building is set for redevelopment into a boutique hotel by a Nashville firm.
"There are people who are definitely interested in having a home right there at the end of Market Square," Hopson said.
The school system needs to find a home for its administrative offices to make way for the hotel project, which has been proposed by BNA Associates of Nashville.
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Knox County Schools spokeswoman Carly Harrington referred questions about finding a future home for the system to Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett's office.
"That said, we are aware the county has been working diligently to find a suitable location for central office staff," she told 10News on Tuesday.
Michael Grider, spokesman for Burchett, released a statement to 10News.
"We continue to work toward finding a new location for the administrative offices of Knox County Schools," his statement reads.
"Currently, we do not have anything to confirm. When there is something to confirm, there will be an announcement of a proposal and there will be discussion during public meetings, as relocating KCS will require a vote by and the approval of the Board of Education and the Knox County Commission."
No deadline exists to bring someone in, Hopson said.
"I can tell you that we have had interest both locally and outside the area, but I can't provide any additional details," he said.
Sale or lease of the space are both options, he said. The East Tower and TVA's nearby Summer Place complex across Walnut Street are both in play, Hopson said.
He estimated about 250,000 to 300,000 square feet of space will be available in the East Tower. The East Tower is slightly smaller than the West Tower. Both add up to about 750,000 square feet of space.
The towers share a heating and cooling system, which complicates any ownership switch. TVA also wants to keep ownership of the entire concourse level for the site, the spokesman said.
TVA's Office of Inspector General has most recently been the prime tenant in the East Tower, but it is moving to its western neighbor. Several temporary tenants have used the space as well.
The federal utility giant has previously announced plans to consolidate area operations into the West Tower. TVA likes being in downtown Knoxville and plans to be there in the decades to come, Hopson said.
It also operates substantial office space in downtown Chattanooga.
When and if TVA and a new resident finish negotiations, there'll be a public announcement, Hopson said.
BNA Associates has proposed a boutique hotel at the AJ Building, itself an old hotel, with plans for 75 residences and a rooftop social space, as well as various other retail and restaurant offerings.