UT expansion could demolish historic homes | News
Due to the need for more class space, the University of Tennessee is working to acquire three historic properties in the Fort Sanders neighborhood.
They currently own 1308 and 1312 White Avenue, and they are finalizing a purchase on 1302 White Avenue.
UT plans to build a 220,000 square foot science building that would house laboratories for microbiology, zoology, psychology and nutrition. The university was approved in February to make the purchase of 1302 White Ave by the Tennessee State Building Commission and UT Board of Trustees.
Once the sale is final, UT will look to sell these three homes through a public bid offering. That means whoever buys it would have to remove them from the site.
Knox Heritage tried to fight these purchases, saying these are historic properties.
"The houses are listed in the national register of historic places and also in a local historic district. Which were measures intended to protect them, but the University of Tennessee is a state organization and is exempt from all local zoning. So there was really no way to stop this action from taking place," said Kim Trent, Executive Director of Knox Heritage.
Trent is working with city officials and the university to find a way to move the houses to other lots in the neighborhood.
"There are a lot of gaps in the neighborhood. Parking lots, blight, lots, empty lots, and so if they have to be sacrificed, it would be a great thing to fill in those blanks and strengthen other parts of the neighborhood since this part is being destroyed," said Trent.
UT expects the purchase to be completed in the next two months. Governor Haslam included funding for this project in his budget proposal in early February. If his proposal is accepted, work could begin as soon as fall of 2015.