Knox County seeks 2nd proposal on rundown elementary school

Knox County seeks 2nd proposal on rundown elementary school property

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The building is at 232 E. Churchwell Avenue. The building is at 232 E. Churchwell Avenue.
Boarded up windows are a common feature at the school. Boarded up windows are a common feature at the school.
"It's a health hazard," says Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. "It's a health hazard," says Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County will try again on a proposal to do something with the run-down Oakwood Elementary School, county Mayor Tim Burchett announced Wednesday.

The building at 232 E. Churchwell Avenue has been a concern for Oakwood community residents and others in North Knoxville for quite some time. The second floor of the school crashed into the first floor during heavy rain in September 2011.

Despite its condition, the school served as the Knox County Teacher Supply Depot from the mid 1980s until November 2010. It was built in 1914.

The county acquired the property in 2010 from Knox County Schools and issued a request for proposal (RFP) to see if someone could develop the property for private use.

Officials only received one proposal, but it didn't work out so Mayor Burchett wants to give it another shot.

"This property is an important part of this community, and I know the neighbors here are tired of seeing the building in the shape it is in," Burchett said in a press conference at the school.

"Public safety is always a concern with properties like this, and there are no illusions that making something happen here will be easy," Burchett added.

Larry Cox went to the school as a child and his parents also went there. He's lived a block away from the building for the past 35 years.  "I hope we see it turn into a carrot again instead of an onion, like it is now," he said.

Knox County Commissioner Amy Broyles says there are historic preservation grants and tax credits available, making the restoration project less of a risk.

Broyles also says if someone wants to restore the building, she would support just giving them the property.

The school closed in 1992. Knox Heritage often listed the property in its most endangered properties list called the Fragile 15.

The RFP will be released next week. All proposals are due to Knox County Purchasing no later than 2:00 p.m. on Feb. 28.

Once the RFP process is complete, the final proposal would require approval by Knox County Commission.

Officials say if the building is not saved, it will have to be torn down to protect the public.

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