After approving almost $177,000 for a physical needs assessment of Dogwood Manor Apartments, Chattanooga Housing Authority board members asked why an assessment - including an asbestos study - wasn't done sooner.
"I would just like to see us have an idea as to the extent of the asbestos, because once we take the title, we have full responsibility," CHA Vice Chairman Jim Sattler said at a board meeting this week.
The needs study is going to take about two months. CHA officials said they expect to close on the purchase in about two weeks.
Sattler said he approved the needs assessment - which will be done by Hefferlin & Kronenberg Architects - because he did not want to delay the deal for Dogwood. But he wants such studies to be done sooner.
"In the future, if we acquire anything, I want us to have a full asbestos study done before we close. Period," said Sattler. "That's a part of due diligence. It's for our protection."
The city did a building assessment in 2002, said CHA Vice President of Development Naveed Minhas, who added that he didn't see the report but contractors assured him that any asbestos was minimal.
Minhas said that as an engineer, he expects some asbestos is in Dogwood's attic, but it probably isn't a large amount and the housing authority has the budget to handle the cleanup.
CHA is giving Chattanooga about four acres of land at the old Maurice Poss Homes site on South Market Street in exchange for Dogwood Manor. No money is involved in the swap, said Minhas.
The housing agency already has approval from the state and from the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to acquire Dogwood. CHA is awaiting approval from HUD's regional office.
Dogwood Resident Council President Roxann Larson told CHA board members that tenants want to have input in decisions over the future of the apartment building and the possibility that they'll have to relocate during its proposed renovation.
Not all residents want to relocate, she said. They should have the option of staying in a hotel while their rooms are remodeled and then moving back into the building, she said.
CHA officials said it's hard to make definite decisions about relocation when they haven't closed on the building. CHA board Chairman Eddie Holmes said housing officials are still determining the details of any relocations and renovations.