KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Developers plan to bring housing, retail and restaurants to the 200 Block of Gay Street in Downtown Knoxville.
Designs for the new development include 53 new housing units, four of them would be "workforce housing", units with rent taken from a portion of the renter's income, and more affordable than conventional downtown housing.
The development would replace a parking lot, currently run by Knoxville's Community Development Corporation.
On Tuesday night, the Knoxville City Council approved a plan to give the developers an approximately $3.7 million Tax Increment Financing grant. The grant would extend over 20 years and be paid off through property taxes collected in the area of the development.
"This particular parcel is a vacant parking lot, and Knoxville needs housing," said Knoxville Deputy Mayor Stephanie Welch. "I think this is a real win for Knoxville."
At the City Council meeting on Thursday, Councilmember Amelia Parker said she wants to see a parking study done for the city before they take away another parking lot.
Parker also said she is "not impressed" by the four units of workforce housing, and said she wants the city government to use more funds to build more affordable housing.
Developer Tim Hill said it adds shops, restaurants, and housing to an area that desperately needs it-- much more efficiently because it's in downtown Knoxville.
"In many parts of the suburbs, it would require somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 acres to do a similar project," Hill said.
Hill said it would connect parts of Downtown Knoxville.
"All too often, people get to the 200 block, look over the great divide of Summit Hill and turn around because there's a big void," Hill said.
Developers said it would be a "distant cousin" of Market Square, with buildings on the sides, and a walkway in the middle.
City officials said the new development would bring in about $185,000 in new property tax revenue that doesn't exist right now.