KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Helen-Ross McNabb Center is no longer purchasing South High Senior Living after it planned to turn it into a drug rehab center, a McNabb Center spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The McNabb Center said it would have been able to serve 1,500 more people every year with the additional beds the center would have gained from purchasing South High.
However, seniors who live in South High were worried about being displaced because of the potential sale.
"I thought I'd be here forever, but the building's up for sale," said Jon Timmerman in April. "If I would've known it would be turned over in a couple of years, I would have looked somewhere else."
Outspoken community members in South Knoxville held meetings and spoke against turning South High into a drug rehab center because they worried about having a rehab center in their community.
In April, the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission voted to approve a change to the zoning for South High, allowing it to become a drug rehab center.
However, the Knoxville City Council had final approval of the re-zoning request. The item is on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting. Davis said the McNabb Center withdrew the re-zoning request Monday night.
"We have been advocating and educating for months, and the support needed for the rezoning just wasn't there," said McNabb Center President and CEO Mona Blanton-Kitts, in an emailed statement. "We are disappointed but look forward to continuing our partnership with Mayor Kincannon and city council to find solutions to the substance use issues facing our community."
Davis said the McNabb Center couldn't purchase the property without it being re-zoned.
"McNabb listened to the community and made a very hard decision," South Knoxville City Councilmember Tommy Smith said in an email. "It is extremely rare for an organization or business to show that level of consideration. We should all be grateful for McNabb and its continued role in Knoxville."
Through a spokesperson, South High owner Rick Dover referred requests for comment to the McNabb Center.
City Council member Andrew Roberto released a statement about the decision not to buy South High Living Center, available below.
I support the expansion of the much needed recovery services provided by the McNabb Center. With regard to the proposed re-zoning at South High, Knoxville-Knox County Planning Staff correctly recommended denial as the re-zoning doesn’t meet any of the criteria for a change to the land use plan and is inconsistent with the intent of the zoning district. The applicant has agreed to withdraw this item and I support their decision to find a more appropriate location for this expansion.
The McNabb Center is a good partner and provides much needed services in our community. I support the expansion of these services, however, I asked the applicant to consider voluntarily withdrawing this application because I agree with Knoxville-Knox County Planning Staff that the re-zoning doesn’t meet any of the criteria for a change to land use plan and is inconsistent with the intent of the zoning district. Yesterday, the applicant announced that they had made the decision to withdraw their application and I support their decision to look for a more suitable location for this expansion.
Tommy Smith also released a statement about the decision, available below.
McNabb listened to the community and made a very hard decision. It is extremely rare for an organization or business to show that level of consideration. We should all be grateful for McNabb and its continued role in Knoxville.