New Safety Complex project at old St. Mary’s site to be completed by late 2021


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – We’re learning more about the state of the project to convert the old St. Mary’s hospital site.

Knoxville city leaders expect the new Safety Complex project for the Knoxville Police Department and Knoxville Fire Department at the old St. Mary’s site to be completed in late 2021.

For months, Knoxville city leaders have been discussing making the site a safety complex. In December, Tennova Physician’s Regional Medical Center permanently shutdown.

Then, in January, Knoxville City Council met to develop a plan for turning this site into the headquarters for the Knoxville Police Department, Knoxville Fire Department, as well as municipal court operations.

More: Resolution allowing for redevelopment plan of former Tennova site passes

The project is broken down into five phases.

Right now, city leaders say they’re in the design phase of the project’s development, which should wrap up soon.

“So, the team has spent the last few months working with KPD, Knoxville Fire Department, Pension Office and Court to make sure that we have a good understanding of their needs, their relationship in the building and who they need to be adjacent to,” said David Brace, Chief Operating Officer for the City of Knoxville.

Around the end of September, the city will be working on an environmental survey for the site.

“Three buildings are being renovated and one of those buildings has some asbestos in it which we knew,” said Brace.

Construction will begin in May 2020, expecting to last 18-months.

“I think it’s important to note what we’re really doing is repurposing a couple office buildings and a women’s pavilion, which is one of the newer buildings here,” said Brace. “So, we’re not repurposing the hospital. That’s actually being torn down except for the old historic 1929 original hospital. So, the old ER, the inefficient portions of the property, will be abated and demolished.”

Once work is completed, the KPD, KFD, City Court and Pension offices can move into the new Safety Complex between November to December 2021.

“There’s a lot of inefficiencies, so bringing these units into a modern facility, a modern training facility for recruiting and training officers or firefighters, makes a lot of sense,” said Brace.

The cost of the project is broken down into two parts:

  • The South Campus: renovation, some demolition and new construction for the Safety Complex will cost $40-million.
  • The North Campus: demolition of the older buildings, will cost $6.5-million.

City leaders say this project is already attracting outside organizations like LMU to the site. We’re told the university is working with the city about acquiring one of the buildings to retain their nursing program and expand their educational footprint adjacent to the Safety Complex.

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