Chattanooga council members to vote on donation agreement for supportive housing development

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – The City of Chattanooga currently owns the land at 1815 East Main Street, but later this month Chattanooga City Council members will be voting on a donation agreement that would give the land to the AIM Center for a supportive housing development.

The AIM Center, Vecino Group and the City of Chattanooga are trying to complete the project known as Espero Chattanooga.

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It’s a 60-unit affordable, supportive housing development that would also provide housing for those who are chronically homeless and struggle with mental illness.

Tuesday afternoon, city council members got a presentation on the donation agreement that could help AIM and Vecino get state funding needed to bring the project to fruition.

“Our goal as the city when we were negotiating this was finding the right balance between giving the AIM Center the control that they need while also maintaining our ability to retain ownership if something goes awry,” Chattanooga Mayor Senior Advisor Tyler Yount said.

The agreement includes clawback provisions that would give the land back to the city if certain criteria are not met like securing financing by October 1st.

“If this deal falls through, that’s okay. We can try again and see other ways that we can use this land for public benefit,” Yount said.

Multiple community benefits are also included in the agreement.

Those include removing blighted buildings on the site, adding new sidewalks and a multi-purpose community room that can be used for neighborhood meetings.

“We feel like we’re in a good place now that we adequately protect the city and this property and our right to this property while also hopefully making this project successful,” Yount said.

Last year, multiple neighbors expressed concerns over the project that’s in Councilman Anthony Byrd’s district.

“We worked hard in the beginning and we got some push back, but then we were able to make people really understand how this is going to help the community and I’m just excited to know that we have another tool in our arsenal to create affordable housing and to just give people a decent place to live, because we’re really fighting with that,” Councilman Byrd said.

The agreement will go in front of city council members on the 26th.