KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Construction has begun on a new facility to provide preschool programs for children in the Knoxville community. Wednesday, Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation was joined by other community leaders to officially break ground on the Western Heights Head Start and Early Head Start facility.

Groundbreaking of new Head Start Facility (Photo via WATE)

Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) will operate the center and provide early childhood education. Family services, health screenings, assistance with mental health and disabilities, free and nutritious meals, transportation to and from the Head Start and dual-language learning programs will also be provided there.

The 22,000 square foot facility is located at the intersection of West Oldham Avenue and Reed Street. It will serve more than 130 children, include four classrooms for infants and toddlers and six preschool classrooms. The site also features two playgrounds, a multipurpose room, and an expanded parking lot. Children can be involved from the time they are born until they are five.

“Children are our future and if we can give them a strong healthy foundation that means they will be able to thrive and take advantage of the educational opportunities afforded to them and get good jobs and raise their own healthy vivacious families,” said Mayor Inyda Kincannon.

The building will cost $5.4 million. Part of this money will come from the Community Investment Tax Credit, which allows KCDC to raise private equity for the Head Start facility. McCarty Holsaple McCarty, a Knoxville-based architecture design firm, designed the Western Heights Head Start facility. Jenkins & Stiles has been contracted to complete the construction. It is expected to be completed by late 2022.

“We want to provide neighborhoods where families can thrive, and today’s groundbreaking is made possible because of the combined efforts of our business and community partners. We especially appreciate the commitment of Western Heights residents to help lead the renewal of their neighborhood,” KCDC Executive Director and CEO Ben Bentley said.

The facility is a part of the push to transform Western Heights and the Beaumont neighborhood through the Transforming Western initiative, a planning process for the future of housing and neighborhoods in Western Heights. This initiative includes plans to rebuild or significantly renovating the affordable housing already available in Western Heights, build more affordable housing units, create additional units for people of varying income levels and revitalize the Beaumont neighborhood.