Notes from the city: Demolition, drugs and deadline

Sandra ClarkLet's Talk

Pryor Brown Garage: The owners of the century-old Pryor Brown Garage in downtown Knoxville have been issued a permit to demolish the four-story brick structure, a victim of demolition by neglect.

The garage sits on a downtown city block bounded by Gay Street, Cumberland Avenue, Market Street and Church Avenue. Most of the block is now used as a surface parking lot, with the closed garage fronting on Church at Market. The demolition permit is valid for a year, and the owners can proceed with the demolition at any time, according to a city statement. The only limitation is a city council prohibition on using the footprint of the existing garage for additional surface parking.

Jack Neely wrote about the garage in 2016 for The Knoxville History Project. His story is here and it’s worth reading.

South High Senior Living rezoning is up for a city council vote tonight (5/16/23) at 6 p.m. The former South High School at 835 Tipton Avenue was developed by Rick Dover as senior housing (low density residential) while the current proposal is to rezone to civic and institutional, enabling McNabb Center to use the facility as a residential drug rehab center. The planning commission approved the change, 11-3.

But I can’t count five council votes to rezone, though, which could lead to a postponement or even a withdrawal.

South Knoxville residents do not want the drug rehab just doors down from Dogwood Elementary School. It was a bait and switch to obtain residential zoning under the guise of senior housing and then go, “Oh, wait!”

Opponents have more leverage with this council, where three members will face a citywide general election this year. Voters will have less leverage under the new law sponsored by freshman Rep. Elaine Davis and passed by the GOP supermajority. It will limit district reps to running within a district without the citywide general election.

Now South Knoxville residents can vote on 9-of-9 city council members. Under the Davis law, they can vote on just 4 of 9.

Y’all can thank Rep. Davis if you see her around.

Filing deadline to run for mayor or one of four council seats is in two days. Thursday, May 18, at noon. The list of candidates is here.

Mayor Kincannon is limited to one more term, as are council incumbents Charles Thomas, Lynne Fugate and Amelia Parker. Janet Testerman opted not to run, leaving an open at-large seat that is Debbie Helsley’s to lose.

Kincannon’s main opponent seems to be Jeff Talman, who spoke May 15 at the Halls Republican Club. If Jeff continues to campaign in Farragut, Seymour, Heiskell and Gibbs, Kincannon should cruise to re-election.

Not cruising is city Judge John Rosson, who is running for a 10th term for the well-paid, part-time job. In the spirit of term limits, Rosson should retire.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today Inc.


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