KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Update:
Strong words came from Knox County’s mayor Monday night about some ideas on the table to relocate the school district and other county offices.
Commissioners were set to vote on items related to the future of their locations. The mayor even threatened a veto before some changes were made late into the night.
One of the items was a proposal to move the school district to the TVA East Tower and giving the county the ability to lease some of the top floors.
The mayor threw his support behind that item but deferred a vote on it until January’s meeting.
There’s also been talks of moving county offices to the Knoxville Center Mall building. Commissioners initially voted to pass a resolution requesting an RFQ.
That’s basically a request for quotes to do a study on the feasibility of the mall property itself. Mayor Jacobs said he’d veto it.
“Just like in the private sector, any job when my folks are asked to do something they have to expend energy, they have to expend time. If they’re doing it on one thing which is a complete waste of time, they can’t do it on something productive. And that is my thought process is not only the amount of money this could potentially cost, but also the fact that you’re essentially asking Knox County government employees who have limited time to go out and chase a rabbit around,” he said.
Later in the night, commissioners came back and passed a substitute amendment looking at the broader picture, requesting the county and city mayor along with KCDC do a study of the area around Knoxville Center Mall to see what the highest and best use of it would be.
Mayor Jacobs approved that decision and said a veto is no longer on the table.
“I think the resolution commission just passed is a great step forward in looking at the overall picture of East Town Mall and that area and seeing what we can do to really help that area with its economic development,” he said.
We’re told that means the next steps will be to talk to the city and KCDC about creating a redevelopment plan.
On Monday night, the Knox County Commission was expected to vote on plans for the future of the Knoxville Center Mall as well as what, if anything would be done regarding Knox County Schools and the TVA Tower deal; however, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said Monday afternoon the vote will be deferred.
On the agenda – the decision to explore the possibility of moving the county offices to the site. The idea surfaced with the closure of the mall, which is slated for January.
The vote is likely not happening until the new year, according to Jacobs.
“For tonight, what we plan on doing is asking for a deferral on this vote, to make sure that everything is in order, to make sure the commisison has all the information that they need,” Jacobs said. “But there is going to be a vote – one way, or another, in January. It’s time to take action.”
Jacobs went on to say what’s happening now is they’re re-hashing old issues, and that it’s time to move forward.
With the Knox County School Board moving out of the Andrew Johnson Building and potentially into the TVA East Tower, some of the commissioners say they don’t know if the mall is a better option; but they believe it’s worth taking a little time to see if it is a better use of taxpayer money – than the TVA Towers.
“We have to make sure that we do out due diligence and checking out every possibility that there is,” said Knox County Commission Michele Carringer. “It’s probably one of the biggest decisions that we can all make for several years – and for our taxpayers.”
The owner of the mall met with the commissioners Monday, confirming interest in the sale and willing to work with county leaders.
No word on the price tag yet.
Monday night – WATE 6 On Your Side will be at the meeting to cover what the commissioners do have to say about the vote deferral and what the next possible moves may be.
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