The Daily Pulse:

City takes control of McClung Warehouses

As expected when we first reported about this in July, as of today, the city of Knoxville legally controls the two McClung warehouses that remained after the ruinous 2007 fire that destroyed the largest and oldest of the buildings. The two large brick buildings that remain on the 500 block of West Jackson Avenue were built in 1911 and 1927. The city will soon issue a Request for Proposals concerning the property.

On the optimistic side, the gesture marks a bit of brightness in what's been an ominous year for preservation in Knoxville. It's also been an ironic year; some buildings in good shape with potential for renovation have been lost, or seem acutely threatened, due to willful owners who will neither fix them up or sell them to ready preservation-minded buyers. Meanwhile, on these rare occasions when historic buildings do come up for grabs, they're rarely easy fixer-uppers. Few handy local developers have expressed wishes to invest the millions that will be required to turn the Jackson Avenue buildings around. The preservationist group Knox Heritage has had promising talks with some out of state nonprofits concerning turning the buildings into art spaces, but nothing is certain.

Here's today's statement from the city, via Jesse Mayshark:

On Wednesday, Nov. 13th, the City of Knoxville formally assumed control of six properties on West Jackson Avenue, including the historic McClung Warehouses. Under an agreement signed by the bankruptcy trustee for the properties, the City paid $1.45 million to settle an outstanding lawsuit and acquire the land and buildings.
The properties, on West Jackson between Gay Street and Broadway, were formerly owned by Mark Saroff and have been in receivership since 2010. The total area of the six lots is about 1.7 acres. City Council approved the terms of the agreement in July, and U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Marcia Phillips Parsons approved it on Oct. 25.  The titles are now legally held by Knoxville's Community Development Corporation (KCDC), the City's redevelopment authority.
"This day has been a long time coming," said Mayor Madeline Rogero. "I am very happy that the City can now move toward stabilizing these historic buildings, and seek proposals from private developers to return these prime downtown properties to productive use. The Jackson Avenue corridor is one of the gateways to our downtown, and this gives us the opportunity to revitalize it."
The City will soon issue a bid for short-term stabilization of the buildings, to protect them from further water damage and trespassers. City officials will also begin the process of developing a Request for Proposals from private developers, with the goal of returning the properties to private ownership sometime in 2014.

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