Funding takes planning forward for revitalization of Lee Apartments

Matthew Lane • Oct 11, 2012 at 11:59 AM

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority will receive a $300,000 planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the revitalization of Lee Apartments and the Midtown neighborhood.

Ed Jennings, Atlanta regional administrator for HUD, made the announcement Thursday afternoon.

“This funding will enable the KHRA to take its initial discussions with local partners to plan out strategies to build a stronger, more sustainable community,” Jennings said. “HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative represents the next generation in a movement toward revitalizing entire neighborhoods to improve the lives of the residents who live there.”

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is a redevelopment grant program created by HUD in 2010 and essentially replaces and expands upon the HOPE VI program by linking housing improvements with a wider variety of public services, including schools, transit and employment opportunities.

The KHRA is one of 17 entities from across the United States receiving a Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant from a pool of 72 applicants. The KHRA announced last year it was planning to focus its redevelopment efforts on Lee Apartments following successful redevelopment efforts in Riverview and the Sherwood/Hiwassee areas of town.

The KHRA plans to use the $300,000 to craft a comprehensive transformation plan for Lee Apartments and the Midtown neighborhood, working with local stakeholders, such as the public housing residents, businesses and city officials.

Lee Apartments is Kingsport’s oldest public housing development (built in 1939-1940) and the second largest one in the city (128 units). The four-acre development is bound by Sevier Avenue and Dale Street near the Salvation Army. More than 200 people call Lee Apartments home.

“The receipt of this award will allow the KHRA to expand what we began in the Riverview community ... and spread revitalization opportunities out to other neighborhoods in Kingsport,” said KHRA executive director Terry Cunningham. “We will continue to grow our relationships with our private and public partners, as well as expand the number of agencies we work with to ensure the goals of the community needs are met.”

With this announcement, HUD has awarded $12.55 million in planning grants to 46 cities or counties. In August, HUD announced the nine finalists that will compete for approximately $110 million in 2012 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants to help redevelop public and other HUD-assisted housing in targeted neighborhoods.

Last year, HUD awarded $122 million in its first Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants to Chicago, Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle.

The KHRA received an $11.9 million HOPE VI grant in 2006. Along with additional funds, the authority replaced 29 houses along Sherwood and Hiwassee with 24 new, affordable homes and demolished the old Riverview Apartments, building 32 rental houses and duplexes on the site with six other homes in the neighborhood. Kingsport and the KHRA also renovated and expanded the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Community Center.

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