After nearly 20 years, Knox County looks to sell former school

Knox County looks to sell old Oakwood Elementary after 20 years

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The inside of the school, which closed in 1992, is in bad shape. Many shattered windows are boarded up as well. The inside of the school, which closed in 1992, is in bad shape. Many shattered windows are boarded up as well.

By HARLOW SUMERFORD
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Knox County School System recently turned the old Oakwood Elementary School over to the county to decide what to do with it.

The inside of the school, which closed in 1992, is in bad shape. Many shattered windows are boarded up as well. It's been an eye sore in the Oakwood-Lincoln Park neighborhood for years.

"It is deplorable. As a tax payer it makes me mad. We own this building and now it is worth nothing," said county Commissioner Larry Smith.

He says the building should have been sold the moment it stopped being used for a school.

"This right here, I'm not a real estate person, but this thing probably could have easily brought $500,000 to $750,000 for a developer that wanted to turn it into condos for the community or something like that or maybe a non-profit could've taken it and built and rehabbed it. We will be lucky to get $100,000 out of it now. We are letting our resources go to waste because we aren't maintaining them," Smith said.

When the school closed, the thought was that it could be used for something else. The Teachers Supply Depot has been using part of the building, but it will relocate in November.

When asked why the building hasn't been maintained, Knox County School Board Chair Indya Kincannon says, "It is a resource issue. We have to maintain facilities students are currently in before maintaining facilities students are not in. In hindsight, it would've been better for the community if we had acted sooner."

No current school board members were on the board when the school closed.

Instead of selling the building, the plan is to accept proposals so the county has control over what happens to the property.

"The end use, if you have an auction you never know what will happen to the property, who is going to own it, and what they are going to do with it. With a request for proposal, we have a more comprehensive plan in place and a proposal before us to evaluate," said Grant Rosenberg, Knox County director of community development.

County commission will discuss the plan at its meeting next week.

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