| July 13, 2012 -
The City of Knoxville has filed an order under its Demolition by Neglect ordinance against the owner of the historic old South High School building, and is preparing to make any repairs needed to protect against further structural deterioration.
The order follows a finding by the City's Better Building Board that the owner "failed to commence, complete, or diligently pursue the necessary corrective action to repair and stabilize the structure," after being cited for neglect this spring.
"The first thing we will do is to assess the immediate threats to the stability of the building and loss of historic character," said David Brace, Director of the City's Public Service Department. "Then, if the owner still has not acted, we will seek bids from contractors to do the work necessary to prevent the loss of this historic building."
Under the Demolition by Neglect ordinance, the City can do repairs on cited properties, and bill the owner for the work. If an owner fails to pay, the City can place a lien on the property.
Bahman Kasraei purchased the former South High building at 953 E. Moody Ave. from Knox County in 2008. The 75-year-old building was placed under an H-1 protective historic zoning overlay by City Council in 2011. After the owner failed to respond to multiple City notices of violation, City officials cited him last month under the Demolition by Neglect ordinance for failing to protect and stabilize the building. The Better Building Board heard the case on June 28th and Board Chair Cortney Piper signed the order today.
Mayor Madeline Rogero included $100,000 in this year's City budget to enforce the Demolition by Neglect ordinance.
"This ordinance has been on the books for several years, but the City has not had resources to give it teeth," Mayor Rogero said. "Neglected properties create hazards to the surrounding neighborhoods and damage property values. We want negligent property owners to know that we intend to be aggressive about combating blight in our community."