By RICK WAGNER
KINGSPORT – The wheels could be set in motion later this year to replace Lee Apartments, a public housing complex demolished in 2018.
But the local housing authority serving the model town is working on projects ranging from serving the homeless to bringing WiFi to residents of its social housing, as well as housing projects for the mentally ill and those who have finished opioid addition therapy.
the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority (KHRA) plans to meet the June deadline to apply for the tax credit for this project and a separate application for a smaller project, according to KHRA Executive Director Terry Cunningham and Deputy Director Sam Edwards.
“We are still watching it. They extended the application deadline until the summer,” Edwards said of the projects recently.
PROPOSED GROOVE AND GREAT ELM
The two projects are the Grove in Poplardale, to replace Lee at Lee’s former site, and the Big Elm development above Hillside Pointe. Poplardale would follow five other such projects already completed that cost $46 million.
Edwards said tax credit claims are harder to get approved because available credits have shrunk under post-COVID pandemic conditions, which include higher material costs and higher bids and overall costs. for such projects. He said money for what would have been future projects has been reallocated to previously awarded projects, which are facing higher costs than expected.
Lee’s replacement, the Grove, is to include at least 128 new units but will include more if finances permit.
“We’ll try to do more if we can,” Edwards said.
The largest project, likely to be called the Grove for short, is to be a mix of townhouses, quadruple units and single-family units, like the Riverview redevelopment.
Edwards said Grove and Big Elm, if either or both are approved for tax credits, would likely have construction beginning in the spring of 2023.
ADD TO INVENTORY
In total, Edwards said KHRA has about 500 housing units, not counting at least 128 to be added by Poplardale. In addition to income-based single-family housing, these 500 units include market-to-market properties, senior housing and group homes.
Units from five projects represent 381 KHRA units: Reedy Point, the former Cloud Apartments; Magnolia Point, the former Dogwood Terrace; Hillside Pointe, the old Holly Hills; Kendrick Point, the former Tiffany Court; and Charlemont Place, formerly a private apartment rental complex.
AMONG OTHER ACTIVITIES:
• KHRA has nearly completed construction of a residential complex at 1040 Robertson St. for those who have completed an opioid treatment program, Cunningham and Edwards said. The six-unit, single-building Slate House is expected to open by the end of April, Edwards said.
• The West Gate complex, for which KRHA secured additional TIF or tax financing at the former Walmart site on West Stone Drive near the interchange of US Highway 11W and Interstate 81, was pre-sold from ‘units.
• Edwards said KHRA is still working to distribute free Chromebooks or other digital devices to every household in its system of around 500 homes and free WiFi access to most. The Digital Navigator program still has over 100 devices that are distributed to all new residents or families if they want one.
KHRA also endeavors to provide instructions, via the Kingsport Public Library, on how to use the devices for children and adults.
Regarding WiFi coverage, he said there are plans to expand it to be accessible in about 90% of residential units in a project that started in March and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. in late April, Edwards said of a funded grant. project.
“We hope to cover the majority of every development,” Edwards said. For those whose signal is not available in their units, he said access will be available elsewhere on KRHA’s property.
“We really see it as a necessity. It’s really not a luxury to have the internet,” Edwards said.
• A residence at 1054 Robertson Street is being renovated by the KHRA for housing for the mentally ill, eligible for use by a family with at least one mentally ill member. A $60,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health is funding the project, which Edwards says is expected to be completed this fall.
• Cunningham said the housing boom in Kingsport, which has a limited supply of homes on the market and around 2,500 in pipelines, is attributable to a backlog of housing demand from existing residents as well as the attractiveness of the region for residents of other regions of the country.
He said the area’s education, health care, internet accessibility and overall quality of life have helped make it known as a good place to live. The pandemic has also increased the number of jobs being done virtually, meaning people can live anywhere and work from home.
• Through the Street Outreach program, KHRA hired two coordinators to help local homeless people bet on housing and benefits. It is funded by a Tennessee grant that distributes federal funds as a stream through the Emergency Solutions program.
Cunningham said it was part of various efforts across the community, efforts he said he hopes will continue to work together for the good of the homeless community.
He said groups such as the Salvation Army, Shades of Grace United Methodist Church and the Kingsport Homeless Ministry are working with Kingsport Police Department homeless social worker Erin Gray, Jonathan Andrews of United Way of Greater Kingsport and others to benefit and serve the homeless.
“We hope everyone will continue to work with each other,” Cunningham said.
Try the Kingsport Times News app today. Download here from Google Play and App Store.