KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is set to acquire a large piece of riverfront property as the administrators scramble to meet student housing needs and talks of building a pedestrian bridge across the Tennessee River move forward.
The $9 million purchase of a seven-acre piece of land at 2323 West Blount Avenue by school administrators will be approved by the University Board of Trustees this week. An agenda for the upcoming meeting cites the school continued growth and increasing need for student housing, parking and other facilities.
While still in the early stages, a proposal to build a pedestrian bridge connecting the University of Tennessee campus to South Knoxville and the 45-mile Urban Wilderness Trail system is gaining momentum.
On Tuesday, the Knoxville City Council will vote to clear the way for an application for $25 million in federal grant funding towards the project. The $25-million grant would be matched with more than $6 million in local funding from the city, the university and other partners.
Vivan Shipe, Executive Director and Founder of community nonprofit I AM The Voice of the Voiceless, urged people to sign up to speak during the Tuesday’s City Council meeting’s public forum and advocate that city funds are used to address homelessness and bolster Knoxville Area Transit services for seniors and those with disabilities.
The bridge project has been considered for over a decade and the university has multiple housing projects in the works to meet student housing needs amid record enrollment.
The Knoxville rental market has been one of the most competitive in the country recently and the university was forced to house students in a hotel due to a lack of residence hall availability.
The University Master Plan calls for the construction of two brand new residence halls on the west side of campus that would add more than 1,200 beds. A new multi-use facility next to Lindsey Nelson Stadium that would add 750 beds is also under consideration.
The meeting agenda shows the university will acquire a 0.87 acre property next to the stadium along Todd Helton Drive from CSX for $2 million.
Todd Helton Drive would be realigned to accommodate the new housing and indoor baseball training facility.
Other potential campus changes in the works include a pedestrian bridge connecting the southwest area of campus to Regal Soccer Stadium and Sherri Parker Lee Stadium as well as changes to Joe Johnson Drive that would add areas for pedestrians and cyclists.