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City of Knoxville, Tennessee
Madeline Rogero, Mayor

For Immediate Release
County Seeking Public Input of Use of Downtown Sites
Thursday, March 1
5:30-8:00 p.m.
At Knox Area Chamber Partnership offices at 17 Market Square, #201

February 27, 2007 - The Knox County Mayor's Office will seek public input on possible uses for two sites in Downtown Knoxville at a meeting Thursday, March 1 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Knox Area Chamber Partnership offices at 17 Market Square, #201.

The nearly one-acre site at the corner of Church Avenue and State Street is the former location of the Knoxville News Sentinel. The four-acre State Street site, bounded by S. Central, State, Union and Commerce Streets, has remained unused for almost a decade since Knox County assembled several parcels at this site for a proposed Justice Center.

The City of Knoxville conveyed the former News Sentinel site to Knox County in exchange for property to build the new Gay Street Cinema currently under construction. In a separate transaction, Knox County conveyed the State Street site to the City of Knoxville as a proposed location for a new Transit Center with Knox County retaining the "air rights," meaning the county retained the option to build atop any finished structure. The site will be transferred back to Knox County soon with the expected designation of a new Transit Center location.

"We think the continued downtown renewal is important to all of our citizens and believe the timing is right to make these two properties part of our revitalization success story," said Mayor Ragsdale in announcing the call for public input. "Our office has had several private sector inquiries about these properties. We believe it is critical that we have a public process to hear from all stakeholders before proceeding with any long term use of these two sites."

Ragsdale said the March 1st public meeting will be a chance to gather information from numerous parties and hear what citizens think about the future development potential of these sites. The public meeting will be moderated by facilitator Lynne Fugate, former executive director of Nine Counties. One Vision., to allow maximum input from citizens.

After considering public input, the County intends to proceed with a Request for Proposals for the former News Sentinel site. Any action on the State Street site will be "on hold" until the City of Knoxville officially releases it from the Transit Center project. However, Knox County intends to proceed now with obtaining public input on its future use.

"These two sites have linkage since both have State Street access and are only three blocks apart," said Ragsdale. "With the positive recent developments on Gay Street, certainly what happens on State Street will contribute to this revitalization synergy."

For Immediate Release
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