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Knoxville leaders approve historically Black college's plan to build housing behind campus

The Knoxville College president said it's part of his $150 million plan to redevelop the Historically Black College.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville College will soon start building 11 acres of affordable housing behind its campus after the Knoxville Knox County Planning Commission unanimously approved a plan for it on Thursday.

It's part of President Leonard Adams's goal to make the historically Black college an "anchor institution in the City of Knoxville." 

In the plan for revitalization, Knoxville College would work with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology to create technical programs. It would also create associate degree programs for students. 

Both are part of the college's goal to get students into the workforce quickly. 

"We're specializing in that shorter, under two-year model right now," Adams said. 

Adams wants the people who live in the affordable housing behind campus to be able to take classes at the college. 

"We're bringing those families and those opportunities to our campus so that we can educate them and offer services to them as well," Adams said. 

This is the latest in a series of improvements planned for Knoxville College. Since it lost its accreditation in 1997, Knoxville College has struggled with low enrollment and financial issues. 

Those issues led to the college's closure in 2015. Hazardous chemicals and building issues shuttered most campus buildings in 2017. 

In 2018, Knoxville College reopened for classes. Those are conducted online while most of the campus remains closed. 

Adams said he hopes his plan will bring students back to the campus over the next decade. 

Adams said the revitalization would cost Knoxville College $150 million over ten years, for a college that brought in just under half a million dollars last year. 

He said this time, they will partner with larger groups — government sources, philanthropists and corporations to make sure they have enough funding to see this project through. 

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