Knox County trying to rehab surplus properties

Associated Press • Nov 17, 2012 at 11:03 AM

KNOXVILLE -- Instead of auctioning off unwanted, surplus property in Knox County, officials have decided to try a new tactic: improving them.

Knox County Commissioners have asked local housing operations to submit requests for proposals to rehab the properties by cleaning them up, building a house or two, and then selling them.

There are dozens of the neglected parcels available in the city and county, though many are near downtown.

Knox County delinquent property attorney Chad Tindell is spearheading the effort with the county's Community Development Department. Tindell told the Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/ZLaOB5) that he hopes the effort will improve the neighborhoods and add the properties back to the tax rolls.

"We shouldn't just push (the land) out," Tindell said. "We should say, Is there something we can do better with it?"

Under the proposal, the county would be relieved of liability on the parcels and it would save taxpayers money used for maintenance.

Twenty-six of the county's 76 pieces of property will be put out to bid because most are large enough to accommodate a house or two. Another 22 smaller side lots have been identified that officials want to sell to a neighbor with adjacent property.

"We're looking to maximize the value of the land," said Rebecca Gibson, director of the county Community Development Department. "We want to get these on the tax roll and get the best use out of them."

Lots that aren't buildable because they are wooded or very steep could be offered to the city of Knoxville for utility or drainage if officials are interested -- or sold at auction.

Commissioner Sam McKenzie, whose district has a majority of the lots to bid on, said he thinks the initiative will be beneficial.

"I think it's long overdue because it takes a lot of our resources to keep the properties up, to keep them from being a detriment to the neighborhoods," said McKenzie, who represents parts of East Knoxville, downtown, Fort Sanders and Mechanicsville. "I'm glad we're going to be able to give organizations a chance to do something positive with the land."


Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

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