May 7, 2007 - The City of Knoxville's
Community Development Division will award $1.9 million to help renovate
rundown housing or build new homes on blighted and vacant properties
in the city's Empowerment Zone.
The funding supports the EZ Blighted Properties Redevelopment
Program that is aimed at encouraging individuals and businesses
to develop affordable housing within the zone.
Currently Community Development is seeking proposals from anyone
interested in obtaining a part of that financing - which will be
awarded primarily in the form of zero or low-interest loans.
There will also be some grants and subsidies available, if necessary,
to make a project affordable for a low-to-moderate income purchaser.
"We think this is a great program because it helps people
buy homes who might not be able to afford to do that otherwise,"
said Mayor Bill Haslam. "That increase in home ownership, in
turn, increases the stability of neighborhoods and makes them stronger."
The program's funds must be used to renovate existing dwellings
or for the development of new ones - ranging in size from one to
four units - on specific properties within the city's EZ boundaries.
list of eligible properties will be posted on the city's website
Community Development will accept proposals until Sept. 30, 2009,
or until all the funds are committed.
Applications for the first round of funding, however, must be received
at the Community Development Office, by May 31, to be considered
by a review committee in June.
That committee will ultimately decide which proposals will receive
awards based on criteria available from Community Development.
The committee will continue to meet monthly after that to consider
new applications - again until all the funds are committed.
There won't be any principal or interest payments during the term
of the EZ redevelopment loans.
However, the loans must be repaid within six months of the loan
closing and the city anticipates that successful applicants will
sell the developed properties or obtain permanent loan financing
as soon as the project is completed.
The city wants to make this loan program a revolving one, meaning
that when the builders pay off their loans Community Development
will take the repaid money and loan it out again.
The city's 16-square-mile Empowerment Zone includes downtown Knoxville
and radiates out of it to encompass the Mechanicsville, Lonsdale,
Five Points, Morningside, Fourth & Gill, Fort Sanders, Old Sevier
and Vestal neighborhoods, among others.
About 48,000 of the city's residents live within the zone's boundaries.
The Partnership for Neighborhood Improvement, or PNI, is the governing
body for the EZ and has allocated $1,884,000 to the city for the
Blighted Properties Redevelopment Program.
The city will administer the loan program.
Knoxville's Empowerment Zone was established several years ago
by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The intent of the EZ program is to spark economic development
and other opportunity in those neighborhoods.
A copy of formal request for proposals, applications and other
information about the EZ Blighted Properties Redevelopment Program
can be obtained at the Community Development office on the fifth
floor of the City County Building.
The information is also available at www.cityofknoxville.org/development
or by contacting the Community Development at 215-2120.