KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — State and city leaders are relieved after the final decision not to lease a parole office at the property containing a historic home in East Knoxville. Moving forward, one specifically says he hopes it will spur development in the area.
After community concern, State Representative Sam McKenzie looked into plans for the historic building known as the Sterchi-Audiger home on East Magnolia Avenue.
“Once I found out exactly what the resource was going to be, being a parole office, and also tearing down this historic structure, it just really got me involved so I reached out to the head of commissioner for department services and just had a really good conversation,” McKenzie said.
The building was reportedly being considered for the site of a high-security parole office.
After McKenzie and other city leaders like Mayor Indya Kincannon brought attention to the situation, the Tennessee Department of General Services issued a statement that the state decided not to move forward with leasing the property. They cited fire damage to the property as the main reason.
“The next steps to me would be, let’s find a suitable use for this facility, let’s get it safe again in terms of, there was some fire damage, and let’s make sure the next development involves the community,” McKenzie said.
He hopes that the restoration of the building will be one step toward more development in East Knoxville.
“I’m excited about East Knoxville, I think East Knoxville is really on the precipice of doing some really great things, we can’t go any further west, so let’s look back we have the infrastructure here, this is one of our oldest neighborhoods,” he said.
He said the change in plans is also an example of successful community input with the state.
“This feels like a victory in terms of engaging with the state, everybody talks about the state is a huge bureaucracy but the folks in general services, they listened, they evaluated the situation and they made the right decision,” McKenzie said.