City compromises, plans to withdraw rezoning Caswell Park parcels for supportive housing

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Green space and permanent supportive housing – the city decided to compromise regarding these two values voiced by residents near Caswell Park after months of debate surrounding its support of Volunteer Ministry Center’s plan to build there.

The city has decided not to move forward with a plan that would have rezoned three parcels of city-owned property at Caswell Park to make way for the construction of permanent supportive housing by VMC.

“I appreciate the suggestion by some Parkridge residents that VMC build their new units on the existing (Positively Living) property and the land acquired through the Myrtle (Street) closure,” Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero stated in her letter to residents. “This seems like a reasonable compromise.”

Back in September, a debate over the possibility of supportive housing in the East Knoxville community of Parkridge was discussed at the Knoxville Area Urban League’s community room due to its proximity to Caswell Park.

Volunteer Ministry Center had proposed the construction of 47 single-bedroom apartments, located next to Caswell Park.

In October, the planning commission approved the park’s land transfer.

The city council reading and approval had been slated to occur after that, but on the Nov. 5 agenda, the ordinance to rezone the property for 24 dwelling units per acre — was made a postponement item.

RELATED: Caswell Park: Is this space a park or potential? The debate continues

This week, striking a compromise, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero now says the VMC’s permanent supportive housing will not be built at Caswell Park.

Mayor Rogero released a letter to people living in the area; the city sent WATE 6 On Your Side a copy.

The letter details future moves to be made by the city following the compromise.

The letter states that supportive housing being built by VMC will now be located on Positively Living property — and not at the three small parcels of land at Caswell Park.

The city will formally request to withdraw rezoning the three parcels of land at Caswell Park at a city council meeting in the new year; Rogero says VMC anticipates purchasing Positively Living property in January – with more to come regarding a planned closure of Myrtle Street and the right-of-way land deed.

Positively Living is a nonprofit located on East Fifth Avenue that provides supportive housing, food service, mental health and addiction counseling and case management to those experiencing homelessness, living with HIV/AIDS, or living with mental health or addition issues.

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