City Councilman Peter Murphy told officials of the Chattanooga Housing Authority that offering the Harriet Tubman development property on Hawthorne Street for sale "as is" could "create a disaster."
Councilman Murphy told CHA Executive Director Elizabeth McCright that he had been advising the agency for months to proceed carefully with disposing of the property, which is being phased out as a public housing site.
He said, "You literally have pointed a loaded gun at the heart of Chattanooga."
McCright confirmed that the property is for sale "as is," but she said the CHA board will insure that the property is only sold to responsible owners and "it must be something that will work."
Jim Sattler, CHA board member and leader at the Chamber of Commerce and the Enterprise Center, said the large site, with 440 units, is being eyed as a "brownfield" site for new industry.
He said, "We definitely want new industry, and that site is definitely on the radar."
Mr. Sattler said some environmental remediation would be necessary to prepare the site.
Councilman Murphy said he felt better about the situation after receiving the assurances from the CHA officials.
Councilman Andrae McGary said the issue should not have been brought up during a discussion about whether Mr. Sattler and several others should be reappointed to the CHA board.
"I fail to understand the thrust of Councilman Murphy's concerns," he said.
Councilman Jack Benson praised Ms. McCright and the current seven board members, saying they had brought CHA back from the brink of bankruptcy.
Former educator Edna Varner is being nominated to finish the term of Consuelo O'Neal, who died earlier this year.
Also up for reappointment are Molly Cooper and Jim Steffes.
Others on the board are Betty Robinson and Wilbert Robinson.
Ms. Robinson is a CHA resident. Ms. McCright said HUD in 1998 specified that a public housing resident be part of such boards.