Economy hurts renovation of old 5th Ave. Motel

Economy hurts renovation of old 5th Ave. Motel

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Volunteer Ministry Center is counting on historic and low income tax credits to fill the bulk of the money needed to bring the newly re-named "Minvilla Manor" on the corner of 5th Avenue and Broadway to life. Volunteer Ministry Center is counting on historic and low income tax credits to fill the bulk of the money needed to bring the newly re-named "Minvilla Manor" on the corner of 5th Avenue and Broadway to life.

By ANN KEIL
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- The Volunteer Ministry Center's (VMC) plan to turn the old 5th Avenue Motel into permanent supportive housing for the homeless has gotten off to a slow start.

"The roadblock, of course, is the economy and the way the downturn in the economy has affected the bond market and the tax credit market," says Ginny Weatherstone, VMC's CEO.

Weatherstone says the ministry is counting on historic and low income tax credits to fill the bulk of the money needed to bring the newly re-named "Minvilla Manor" on the corner of 5th Avenue and Broadway to life.

"In order to successfully sell tax credits, you just have to have a littler healthier economy --businesses with profits," Weatherstone says.

For now, that means a standstill on construction, but she says VMC isn't giving up.

The ministry is hoping for a 20-year tax freeze and is waiting on final approval for a $450,000 grant from the city and $250,000 in federal community development block grant funds from Knox County.

"We had hoped to be further down the road with the funding package and have that all together, but we are not there," Weatherstone says.

She admits the economy has not just hurt the timeline, it's hurt the ministry's budget.

The projects estimated cost is just over $6 million. That's up from the $3.8 million originally projected.

"I would underscore the fact that we have not given up on this project," Weatherstone says.

Project developer David Arning, with the Southeastern Housing Foundation, says he hopes to begin construction by the end of this year.

Volunteer Ministry Center officials also tell 6 News donations are down. It's a big dilemma when the need is up.

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