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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Construction Gets Underway On Sherwood/Hiwassee Homes

Delays have pushed the housing project’s completion from September to the end of the year.



KINGSPORT — Construction of 24 new homes in the Sherwood/Hiwassee area of town — in connection with the city’s HOPE VI project — has been delayed a couple of months and is now expected to be finished by year’s end.

In February, the city held a groundbreaking ceremony along Sherwood to kick off the second phase of the $30 million HOPE VI project — the building of 24 affordable home ownership units along Sherwood and Hiwassee.
At the time, HOPE VI Director Doris Ladd said the new houses along Sherwood/Hiwassee were expected to be built four-a-month and all by September. Now, the finish date has been pushed back to mid-to-late December, Ladd said, adding they hope to offer the first homes for sale in July.
“We’ve had some delays with HUD (Housing and Urban Development) coming through with the official approvals, and Walker Construction was a little delayed in getting up here,” Ladd said. “Officially, we didn’t get kicked off until last week.”

The KHRA awarded the contract to build these new homes to Walker Construction of Chattanooga, which has done a HOPE VI project in the past. The houses along Sherwood and Hiwassee will be approximately 1,400 square feet and cost in the $130,000 range. They will be a story and a half, brick with vinyl siding in Colonial and Craftsman style, with three bedrooms, two baths and a storage unit in the back yard.
“They’re there working, moving dirt and taking out the trees that need to be removed. They’ve marked for the driveways and surveyed the property,” Ladd said. “They’re validating what needs to be moved, changing the elevation on Hiwassee and doing the prep work, and they’re hoping to pour some footers this week.”

Ladd said the KHRA is working with the city to save as many of the trees along Sherwood and Hiwassee as possible.
“It looks like most of those trees along Hiwassee will have to come out, and we’re looking to come up with some funds to replace the trees along that street,” Ladd said. “We’re hunting for grants to help us do that.”
The HOPE VI project began about two years ago when the city applied for a HOPE VI revitalization grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In October 2006, the city received $11.9 million in HOPE VI funds, and since then Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority officials have been working on the project.

The entire HOPE VI project — both construction projects, the opening of the HOPE VI/Fresh Start office, and the purchase of property along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive — is estimated to cost at least $30 million. The $11.9 million grant is just part of the funding needed to complete the project.

The other major phase of the project is the demolition and replacement of Riverview Apartments with 32 homes (along with six additional houses in the South Central community). The demolition has occurred, but new home construction in the Riverview community will not begin until early 2009.
However, some new homes will be going up this year, not officially connected with the HOPE VI project. The Alliance for Business has funded a youth build project in the Riverview community where 19- to 24-year-olds with no high school degree will go in and build four new homes in the neighborhood.


Ladd said the students will spend half their time on site and half in the classroom, and when done they’ll have their GED and necessary construction skills. Two of the houses are expected to be built in the next 12 months, and two more after that, Ladd said.