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Abandoned Rule High School to be demolished in Knox County, contractors placing bids

The Knox County Mayor's Office said they are working to tear down Rule High School. Contractors are now placing bids for the demolition.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — As if forever forgotten, Rule High School sits abandoned in Northwest Knoxville. Little by little, it's falling into ruin. 

"It's really beyond repair at this point," said Ben Sharbel, the supervisor of property development and asset management with Knox County procurement.

Knox County obtained Rule High School from the Knox County Schools system in 2016. But for over 30 years, there wasn't any maintenance. Last year the county began the formal process for sale and redevelopment. 

"While we have had a few responses, the property — it's [in] a very bad condition," Sharbel said. "And the county made the decision to demo it, instead of awarding one of the prior proposals."

Sharbel explained those proposals asked for too much financial investment from the county. The city is already getting around $40 million from a grant to revitalize parts of the Western Heights Neighborhood - but the high school won't be part of the plan.

Sharbel says the county will use American Rescue Plan Act funds (ARPA) for the demolition. These are federal funds given to local governments to help them recover from the pandemic. 

For now, the future of this property is unknown and contractors can place bids for the demolition until November 17. After that, it depends on what developers want to build there. 

Sharbel gave some predictions.

"Some sort of housing, mixed-use facility that deals with housing, park-related options, different services for the community," Sharbel said. "It would most likely be related to housing and something that just fits in with the city's plan."

RELATED: Mayor says Rule High School is 'beyond repair'

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