City plans community-centered development at Harriet Tubman site
Mayor Andy Berke says East Chattanooga is up and coming, and the next step is developing land on the former Harriet Tubman housing site.
Earlier this week, the city announced a major new project. Nippon Paint, a Japanese company, plans to use most of the land for a plant.
The city says 20 acres will be left for the community. Monday, they announced what they hope to do with that space.
"What we want to see is the beginnings of reinvestment in the neighborhood. I think childcare would be a great addition to the site as well as housing,” Mayor Berke said.
The city wants property taxes collected from Nippon to be reinvested in the rest of the property, through a tax increment financing district, or TIF.
"The TIF is really the first step because if we don't have the infrastructure money it will be very difficult to get this project on track and we want to use that to make sure we get the best quality project for the community,” Berke said.
TIF’s can't pay for housing under current policy. Instead, the city will put in infrastructure, such as roads and sidewalks, to attract private builders.
Councilman Anthony Byrd says keeping home prices down is key.
"I would not vote or agree on anything that does not include those developers that are coming in to invest in housing,” Byrd said.
Berke says the city will have to hold contractors accountable as they start work to reinvigorate East Chattanooga.
"Part of the process is making sure that we put things in the plan that developers have to live up to,” he said.
None of the work can get done until the TIF is approved. The first step is a vote from the city's Industrial Development Board. They have a public hearing and vote set for November 13.
After that, both the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County will have to approve the TIF district.
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