KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — South High Senior Living will remain in place after the McNabb Center withdrew its rezoning approval Monday.
The McNabb Center was set to purchase the building and turn it into a rehabilitation facility. The Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission approved the rezoning of the building in April, and Knoxville City Council was set to vote on it Tuesday night.
Residents and employees of South High raised concerns about being displaced when the potential sale became public in March. Residents of the South Knoxville neighborhood where it is located also expressed worry over the potential rehab center being located next to Dogwood Elementary School.
Mona Blanton-Kitts, president and CEO of the McNabb Center said they made the decision to withdraw the rezoning request after speaking with community leaders.
“That’s part of that due diligence that we’ve been working on for months and months, meeting with city council members and really hearing their thoughts about where’s the best place to have residential treatment facilities, especially around the rezoning,” Blanton-Kitts said. “That was really the issue and what was on the agenda, was ‘Were we able to rezone?’ and it just really wasn’t the right thing to do at this moment.”
She said despite the decision there is still a need for more support in the community for those suffering from substance issues.
“One in three families are touched by a substance use disorder, those are the people that we love, those are our families, those are the people that we care about. Being able to move forward and try to find appropriate zoning and appropriate spots to be able to provide A&D treatment will make us a much, much better community,” Blanton-Kitts said.
Jon Timmerman is a resident of South High and said he and others felt a sense of relief when they heard the news.
“At first I didn’t think we had a chance anyway, but then as the community kept coming together, the neighborhood association kept coming together, and nobody is against drug rehab, we just didn’t want to have to give up our home for that,” Timmerman said.
He also wanted to thank community leaders for hearing their concerns.
“The commissioners, they say they’re here for the people and they’ve listened to us. I know there was a big email campaign to the McNabb Center, we’ve sent a bunch of emails to them, the mayor and all the other city council members. So, I really appreciate McNabb Center seeing our wishes,” Timmerman said.
The McNabb Center plans to either find another location for its new facility or renovate a current one to fit more beds.