Knox County takes first steps to sell historic Andrew Johnson building

Local News

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett announced Friday that his office is taking requests for proposals for the Andrew Johnson building.

The Andrew Johnson Building stands at the southwest corner of Gay Street’s 900-block and shares a central courtyard with Riverview Tower. The building’s eighteen stories currently house Knox County School’s administrative offices, which will move to another location.

“As you all know downtown Knoxville is booming, a matter of fact it is white hot right now on the real estate market and we want to see this property put to better use and back on the tax rolls,” said Burchett.

Requests for proposals will be open for the next sixty days. Mayor Burchett said he is hoping to get the ball rolling on the property before he goes out of office.

“Government doesn’t need to be in the business of owning prime real estate and there has never been a better time to get this property back in the private sector,” said Burchett. “I’m calling on all developers and investors to give us their best proposals, whether it is residential condos and apartments and office buildings or redeveloping this property as offices again.”

The county originally payed around $2.5 million for the A.J. Building. Burchett said the goal is to at least break even on the property and get the property back on the tax roll so it can generate tax dollars.

Knox County Superintendent Bob Thomas said the school system does not have a specific location in mind for their new offices, but he is looking for a building that has better parking and better access to the public. Knox County is welcoming suggestions or proposals for locations.

“When you’re in a vertical building and you’re a big organization, the communication is not nearly is good vertically as it is horizontally,” said Thomas. “If we had a place where we could be more or less on one or two floors, then it would work much better from a communication stand-point, so that’s been one big detriment to working in that building.”

The high-rise was built in the 1930s. It was originally home to the Andrew Johnson Hotel, serving people like Sergei Rachmanioff, Amelia Earhart, Lyndon B. Johnson, Elvis Presley and Duke Ellington. Country music singer Hank Williams Sr. is rumored to have spent the last night of his life at the hotel in 1952.

Twenty-six years ago Knox County took ownership of the Andrew Johnson building.

In 1980, the Andrew Johnson Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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