KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The McNabb Center is ending its efforts to purchase South High Senior Living in Knoxville in order to turn the assisted living facility into a drug rehabilitation center.

A McNabb Center spokesperson said that an ordinance to rezone the property, a necessary step to acquire and convert the property into a rehab site, has been removed.

Under the proposed sale, the historic former high school would have converted from a senior assisted living facility to a center for adults dealing with substance abuse issues. McNabb Center Vice President of Development and Government Relations Houston Smelcer previously told WATE they had entered a purchase agreement with Dover Signature Properties, but the purchase was never finalized.

The move was met with community pushback. Some neighbors were concerned about a substance abuse facility being located by a nearby elementary school. Residents and staff of the assisted living facility were left uncertain about their future living arrangements or job prospects.

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A spokesperson for South High Living directed a request for comment to the McNabb Center.

South High Senior Living opened in 2020. Originally constructed as South High School in the 1930s, the building had previously been vacant since 1991.

“McNabb listened to the community and made a very hard decision. It is extremely rare for an organization or business to show that level of consideration,” 1st District City Councilman Tommy Smith said in a statement. “We should all be grateful for McNabb and its continued role in Knoxville”