KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The people living in and around the Austin Homes housing development got a chance to see Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC)’s master plan for their community Tuesday night, as the housing authority plans to move forward on them soon.
Ben Bentley, KCDC’s CEO, said the point of Tuesday’s meeting was to bring the input developers have gotten from the community, including what they liked and didn’t like, and reporting it back to them.
The plan is set to be completed later this year.
Darlene McCutcheon has lived in the development for four years with her son.
“It’s time for a change. Yea, a rebuild. Do something different over here. I mean, fix us up like everybody else is fixed up,” she said.
Vivian Tate has lived in the Austin Homes apartments off and on her entire life. She’s lived in her current apartment for six years and said she hasn’t seen much change. She has seen a lot of change at the Five Points Community up the road, though.
“Love them. I ain’t never been in them, but they look nice on the outside. Yea, they redid them good,” Tate added. Now, Tate and her neighbors are excited it’s their turn for a revitalization.
There are currently 129 subsidized housing units there. Bentley said while the total number of units will fluctuate, they’re planning on building about 420. Three-hundred of those will serve incomes between 80% median income and below. The other units will be subsidized, where people pay 30% of their adjusted income to rent.
Bentley said these revitalization projects have an impact on the physical health of tenants, with improvements to things like air quality, and on morale. In the case of Austin Homes, he said, “it’s sunken down in a hole, it feels like it was meant to be something separate from the rest of the community. We don’t want that to be the way that people view that site nor do we want the people that live there to feel like they’re something separate from the community.”
He said it can also improve safety for the area. That is made possible through, as he explained, designing buildings with clear sight lines, adding lighting to the site, and cameras where they’re needed.
It can be seen, through the site renderings, the site densely mixed with modern housing, mixed with different types, and various recreation activities. He said the support from the City of Knoxville has helped make it possible.
He cited the success with the Five Points Community, which is currently in its third phase of construction and soon to begin it’s fourth, but said it was the city’s $13 million long-term investment that helped make it a reality.
In Mayor Rogero’s State of the City address Friday, she said she’d ask the council for $4.5 million to go to the Austin Homes project. Bentley said Tuesday that was an outstanding down payment that will increase the quality of life for the people there while improving the look of that area.