Developer seeks city assist for 80 apartments

Nick Della VolpeNortheast Knox

Developer Carl Lansden’s proposed low-income housing development on the site of the old Holiday Inn / Family Inn on Asheville Highway is moving forward. City engineering and permitting is currently reviewing architect plans for the 80 multi-family units proposed for the roughly 7-acre site. The old hotel buildings will be demolished to make way for 2- and 3-story housing complexes.

Artist’s rendering of project

The developer’s original 110-unit proposal also called for a 2-acre commercial segment along frontage on Asheville Hwy. That is now reduced to 80 units when proximity to a blue line stream was found to be too close to the rear of the project site to provide an adequate buffer. The site, named The Ammons, will now be all residential. Background on the zoning and community issues was covered by here.

South Knoxville architect Len Johnson and builders Jake and David Varner make up Landen’s project team. The Varners are now completing the 50-unit Burlington Commons just up the road on Holston Drive (past the Kroger’s). That project will open in September.

Financing: Affordable housing projects are often assisted by governmental aid or perks to make them more attractive to for-profit developers. This project has two. Tax credits from the state of Tennessee’s Housing Development Authority, plus a low-income housing fund grant from the city of Knoxville. The state credits are usually sold by the developer to a company, typically a financing entity, to help reduce the financer’s taxes. In return that purchaser promises to act as project lender.

The city often provides monetary grants to the builder, up to a maximum of $30,000 per unit, according to Becky Wade, head of the city’s Department of Community Development. The Ammons is being recommended for a $2 million grant (amounts to some $20k/ unit). Such grants require city council approval. That action is currently scheduled to be included on the Sept. 7 meeting agenda.

Nick Della Volpe is a lawyer, a gardener and a former member of Knoxville City Council.

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