Marion County, City close to deal on VA

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The latest update on the status of the former Knoxville VA campus is that local entities are nearing the finish line.

“We’re very close to a deal,” Marion County Board of Supervisors’ Chair Mark Raymie said.

The County and City of Knoxville have a 28E agreement in which the County agrees to pay for demolition of the buildings on the ground – and will have ownership of the property – while the City will have to handle development. The County has pledged at least $8 million to raze the buildings. The Board of Supervisors will control the property.

The holdup of the final agreement between the federal government’s General Services Agency and the local entities taking over is the campus’s place on the National Register of Historic Places. The State Historic Preservation Office and GSA have to reach an agreement on how the history of the campus will be preserved.

Raymie tells the Tribune that the GSA is eager to dispose of the property and is not delaying a transfer to the County. The past month has been productive, according to Raymie. He adds that the City has been a great partner. Everyone involved wants to finish business with the federal government for the good of Marion County and Knoxville.

The local entity’s primary goal for the campus is to turn it into residential housing. Raymie wants any housing development to be ideal for working families to settle in Marion County. This will help strengthen the local workforce, as well as the economy.

While the County wanted to begin demolition of the buildings in the spring and summer of 2019, Raymie said a commitment remains to follow through with the financial promise when final terms of the land transfer are completed.

Knoxville City Manager Aaron Adams said a meeting is planned for Tuesday, Aug. 27. More information should be available after that meeting.

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