The historic Andrew Johnson Building is set to become a 94-room boutique hotel.
Knox County Procurement issued an "intent to award" to BNA Associates for its proposal for the sale and redevelopment of the AJ Building, according to a release from Knox County.
“The intent to award is only one piece of a complicated process,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “If we are going to ever see the AJ Building back in the hands of the private sector, we have to find a location to house the administrative offices of the Knox County Schools. That is a significant challenge, and we will continue working on it.”
BNA Associates proposed the boutique hotel with plans for 75 residences and a rooftop social space, as well as various other retail and restaurant offerings.
The redevelopment is estimated to generate about 100 permanent jobs and over $1.5 million in local sales and hotel/motel tax revenue, according to Knox County.
The release states there will be an initial investment of $43 million. Their proposed purchase price is $6 million.
“This proposal shows that there is real interest in seeing this property redeveloped and put to a higher and better use that creates jobs, boosts our local economy and generates revenue for our schools and infrastructure,” Burchett said.
Originally known as the Andrew Johnson Hotel, the building was constructed in 1928. It's located on the south end of downtown Knoxville's bustling Gay Street.
Knox County purchased the 18-story building in 1991.
“Getting the Andrew Johnson Building back on the tax rolls has been a priority for me since I took office as Knox County Mayor,” Burchett said.
After decades as one of the city's biggest hotels, its use evolved. It now serves as central administrative headquarters for Knox County Schools.
The AJ Hotel saw guests ranging from presidents and other political leaders to celebrities.
In July 2015, the county put out a Request for Information (RFI) to see what companies at the time might've been interested in buying the building. Seven groups expressed interest and proposed a variety of uses.