Jul 25 2008
08:05 am

After much information has been learned about the astonishing cost of the Minvilla project, unanswered questions still remain; the main ones are:

1. Given that the estimated cost of VMC's Minvilla project is now "north of $6,000,000" (according to 6/20 quote from the Ten Year Plan's Housing Coordinator) and has been rising at ~$100k per month, why are not the many and much less expensive alternatives being pursued?

2. How does it make sense to house fragile and recently homeless individuals immediatly adjacent to those who could easily re-enable the activities which may have caused their homelessness in the first place.

According to the same quote from the Ten Year Plan's Housing Coordinator ((link...)), the cost "is...kind of a moving target" so we don't actually know what the final cost will be; however, we do know that many more and less expensive options are available now. ((link...))

Much has been made of my ~$200/sq ft calculation of this $6+mm and ~30,000 sq foot project but rather than argue the math...real questions need answering. Why not help more people with more efficient use of funds? Why not help them sooner by using readily available properties? Why not locate them in an area where they are less likely to be tempted or preyed upon?

Lisa Starbuck's picture


I think this is a perfect example of good intentions gone awry.

The issues Bill raises are very valid and should be addressed.

I know at one time there was a committee of stakeholders meeting regularly to work through some of the issues related to Knoxville's homeless and the concentration of services that has created a "Mission District" in North Knoxville. I think the 10 year plan was an outgrowth of those meetings, or maybe I am confused about that part.

Sorry to be clueless, but is that committee still meeting regularly? Is this something that could/should be addressed in that venue or is it an issue for City Council or what?

What is the position of Knox Heritage and other historic preservation groups in terms of helping to find an alternative developer/use for the property?

What has been the response of the homeless industry to the point that cheaper housing would allow more homeless individuals to be served?

Bill Pittman's picture

Hi Lisa, Thanks for

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for understanding my concern. The group to whom you refer no longer regularly meets but evolved into the Downtown North plan to improve the area in spite of the over-concentration. I addressed the issue with KnoxHeritage but their concern is to save the building and not to pick its use...which I technically agree with but as with medicine, sometimes an amputation, while not desirable, is the best option. As to the structure, private developers may or may not be interested now but they will never be with the continued over-concentration and the expansion of the same. An alternative would be for the City to utilize its relatively new "demolition by neglect" ordinance to roof and secure the building and if the homeless service industry's plans work, then private developers, if not interested now, might be interested a few years from now.

As to the response of the homeless service industry, they become incredibly quiet when pointed questions are asked.

Kindest regards,
Bill Pittman

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