Town of Farragut approves $2 million buy for community center and county senior center

Tracy Haun OwensFarragut, Feature

The town of Farragut has long talked about having a community center for its more than 22,000 residents. Knox County has wanted a new space for its Strang Senior Center. Both of these goals got closer at the July 12 meeting of Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The board voted unanimously to spend $2 million to purchase the former Faith Lutheran Church property at 239 Jamestowne Blvd.

The board also unanimously passed a memorandum of understanding that the purchase is contingent upon entering a lease agreement with Knox County, in which the county will spend up to $2 million to renovate the property. The county will have a 20-year lease from the town of Farragut and is expected to move its Strang Senior Center to the property.

In order to secure Knox County as a tenant within the due diligence period of 30 days, the agreement will need to be put to the Knox County Commission on July 23. Town administrator David Smoak and town attorney Tom Hale both said Knox County is excited to complete the deal.

The church building is 35,900 square feet. The town of Farragut will have 16,556 square feet of the building. Knox County will have 9,672 feet of dedicated space. The two entities will share another 9,672 square feet, which will include a gymnasium, a stage, a commercial kitchen and rest rooms. The town and the county will split the costs of upkeep for the building 60/40. If the costs of renovations go over $2 million, the town and county will split them, with anything over $2.25 million having to go back to the town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen for approval.

The timetable for the move depends on the renovations, and the scope of those is not yet known. Smoak said bringing the whole building into ADA compliance would be one big-ticket item. Updated fire safety features may be another.

The building has ample parking, which is an ongoing issue with the Strang Center’s current location on Lovell Heights Road.

Smoak said the building will allow for larger indoor events and allow multiple activities in the space at one time.

“It’s something we’re missing,” Smoak said of the space. “It would allow us to do many things we cannot currently do.”

The Faith Lutheran congregation has moved to a place of worship at 225 Jamestowne Blvd. Smoak said the town had looked at the property before but that it was more space than was needed for just the community center.

With the county’s lease, “It’s a much better cost structure than we were looking at a few years ago,” Smoak said.

Alderman Louise Povlin thanked Smoak and the town staff for their work in bringing the deal to fruition.

Mayor Ron Pinchok said, “It’s a win for the church, for the seniors and for the town.”

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