$1 million not enough for Chattanooga's Harriet Tubman site

$1 million not enough for Chattanooga's Harriet Tubman site

October 2nd, 2013 by Yolanda Putman in Local - Breaking News

The Chattanooga Housing Authority's Harriet Tubman complex in East Chattanooga sits vacant.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

The Chattanooga Housing Authority wanted to work with the city toward the purchase of the former Harriet Tubman housing development site, but the decision was in other hands, CHA's board chairman said Tuesday.

"We tried to put together several different proposals for the city," Eddie Holmes said. "They offered $1 million and some additional property, but the big animal, the big monster in the room was HUD."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development owns the 35-acre former public housing site, and it has to approve any sale of the property.

"It's not our property," Holmes said. "It's HUD's property."

Naveed Minhas, CHA's vice president of development, said HUD had determined the value of the property at $2.46 million.

Holmes said there no way that CHA could justify accepting a $1 million bid from the city when the highest bid for the Tubman property was twice that amount.

HUD officials could not be reached Tuesday for comment because of the government shutdown.

At the least CHA officials had hoped the city could get close to $2.46 million. CHA and the city met several times, but Mayor Andy Berke's best offer was $1 million and 2.5 acres on East Main Street across from Armando's Restaurant.

Berke said increasing the city's bid simply wasn't in the budget. On Monday, Berke withdrew the city's bid. He had included the money for the purchase in his 2014 budget and had proposed converting the site into a job-producing business/industrial park.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6431.