Berke's budget includes purchase of Harriet Tubman Complex - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Berke's budget includes purchase of Harriet Tubman Complex

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

One of those vacant properties Berke would like to see go away is the old Harriet Tubman Public Housing complex.

It's been empty since last year. Berke wants to buy it,tear it down, and make the site more appealing to big business looking for a city to call home.

But it may not be that easy. As a part of his first budget presentation as mayor, Andy Berke made it known he'd like to purchase the deteriorating Harriet Tubman Public Housing site.

"We have businesses coming to Chattanooga all the time saying where can we locate. This is a great location for us to tell them about," said Andy Berke, Chattanooga Mayor.

HUD gave the housing authority permission to sell the site in December 2011.

Three-hundred residents were moved from the property in need of at least $33,000,000 in work.

But Berke has other plans for the property. "Chattanooga is running low on large scale land for development," said Berke. But he'll have to get in line.

Five letters of interest have been submitted, offering to pay between $800,000 and $4,000,000.

It will ultimately be up to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development who the 35 acre site is sold to.

"The Harriet Tubman project only occurs if we can reach an agreement with HUD. The second part of that is our offer for that property is roughly $1,000,000," said Berke.

Berke says most of the money budgeted for the project would go to site work to prepare the land for business to move in, ultimately cleaning up a struggling part of town, and attracting new jobs to the area.

Berke says the chamber of commerce is on board. It seems council members are too.

"I hope this council, I know I will, will work with you very strong and hard with you to achieve the goals that you've set thus far," said Moses Freeman.

"I don't see any negatives," said Yusuf Hakeem.

Chattanooga Executive Director Betsy McCright declined our request for an on-camera interview,
saying it is premature to comment before the city makes an offer.

Mccright says there is no deadline of when the property has to be sold.  It will be up to the city council to approve Mayor Berke's budget,and formalize an offer on the property.

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