On Thursday, the Chattanooga Housing Authority moved a 37-acre vacant housing site off its books and the city picked up what officials hope will become an economic development catalyst in East Chattanooga.
Housing authority and city officials closed on the sale of the former Harriet Tubman site, ending a years-long effort by the housing agency to sell the property that once had 440 housing units for low-income residents.
"This is a happy day," said CHA Executive Director Betsy McCright.
The $2.6 million from the sale is already in the bank. The authority will use the money on ongoing renovations to the 340-unit Emma Wheeler Homes as well as other repair projects at Cromwell or Boynton apartments, McWright said.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke called Thursday's closing "another step forward for our community."
An environmental study of the Tubman site must be finished before bids for demolition work can go out.
The housing authority started to move residents out of the 50-year-old Tubman housing site in 2011. The apartments fell into disrepair, and CHA could not keep up with maintenance.
Berke said he intends to develop the property into a site that business and industry would find attractive.
"We're bringing jobs to Chattanooga and benefiting that entire neighborhood," he said.
While there is a keen need for affordable housing, he said, many people in East Chattanooga struggle to find housing because they don't have jobs. One in five homes in East Chattanooga is vacant, he said.
McCright said the housing authority wants to provide housing sites with less density than those at Tubman.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-6431.