published Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Cleveland looking to fill gap from Whirlpool

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    Officials with Cleveland and Bradley County, Tenn., say now is the time to begin thinking about what will take Whirlpool’s place in South Cleveland when the company moves to its new plant.
    Photo by Randall Higgins

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Now is the time to start planning what will take Whirlpool's place in South Cleveland when the company moves to its new plant, one city councilman says.

Cleveland City Councilman Richard Banks said Monday he will introduce a resolution when the council meets in two weeks to create a Southside Redevelopment Committee, including city and Bradley County representation, to help with the decision.

"We owe it to the Southside to get started on this," Banks said. "Whirlpool made a strong commitment to stay in Cleveland and Bradley County, but the Southside will be losing that a couple of years from now."

Whirlpool's current location on King Edward Avenue has been an industrial site for nearly a century, its 90 acres dominating much of the area. But the company is constructing a new plant at Benton Pike and Michigan Avenue for its 1,600 employees.

Production at the new plant is expected to start in early 2012.

Council members said they already are hearing ideas from the community about what to do with the old site.

"We need to keep an eye on the community. Their grocery store closed. The Kentucky Fried Chicken closed. We have to be concerned," said Councilman Avery Johnson.

Councilman Charlie McKenzie said the location should be considered as a potential school location.

Banks suggested that some of the sprawling site — which contains many large buildings — could be used as a community center. He said it could be called the Tom Rowland Civic Center, named after the current mayor who, at 19 years, has served in the position longer than any other person.

Bradley County commissioners also have been talking about how to help the neighborhood when the corporation moves.

Doug Berry, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce's vice president for economic development, said the local Industrial Development Board plans to study some kind of redevelopment for the area.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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doriswarner said...

I am someone who lives on the south side of Cleveland and my husband and i work very hard at trying to keep our home and property nice. I like the idea of building a school and perhaps a small housing development. A housing development that is attractive and inviting to the hard working middle class. Not homeowners that want to dump garbage on their lawns and backyards. This does not mean "quick-put up homes." Consideration should be made to condemn and knock down adjacent homes to whirlpool so that others living nearby can become proud of living on the south side once again. Knocking down trashed-up homes would let people know in the area...that you mean business and are serious about investing in that part of town. I certainly hope that things change for the better on the south side of town.

February 16, 2011 at 11:52 a.m.
Ray_Warner said...

I'd like to comment a little further on the above posting. Disclaimer, the above was posted by my wife. Late last spring the code enforcement officers went thru this part of town and issued citations to people in the area for junked cars, garbage in front yards and many other eyesore issues. I applauded this effort and it did seem to get yards and porches cleared of trash and junk, and unregistered vehicle moved off of property. But 8 months later its all back again. Altho we have many people in our area that own and live in these homes and take pride in their appearance, we also have way to many that dont. I'd recommend that enforcement officers not only cite the tenants of these properties, but also cite the homeowners of record. Unfortunatly many of these folks are 'absentee landlords' and dont seem to care much about appearance of the property they own. Sad because many of these properties were paid off many years ago and it seems the landlords are only interested in collecting the rent every month. Some of these properties should have the houses torn down, many being beyond repair. Truly, empty lots would look better in many of these locations. Shame on the property owners that wont take care of these places! A correction in the article. The grocery store has reopened. KFC building remains vacant.

February 16, 2011 at 1:14 p.m.
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