The Chattanooga Housing Authority voted unanimously in a Tuesday morning board meeting to accept the City of Chattanooga's bid for the Harriet Tubman housing project property. The city's bid was for $2.6 million.
Instead of renovating the housing, the city plans to make the area a light industrial zone in order to bring in jobs.
Commissioner Jim Steffes said, "East Chattanooga needs jobs. It does not need substandard housing."
One of the other bids for the property was from the Lakewood Development Group in Chicago. Its bid was for $3.3 million to develop a new housing site.
However, all of the commissioners agreed that while the CHA would receive more money, Lakewood would not being doing enough to change the property.
Commissioner Steffes said, "I think taking the initial $700,000 to benefit the Housing Authority directly is a little short sighted. I think in a short time it would not be safe."
He said, "We do not need the amount of density that's there. I do not see that in Lakewood's current offer, that they're going to modify that density. Lakewood has not provided any details as to how they're going to renovate those buildings."
He compared the situation to that of Detroit, saying Detroit had plenty of low-income housing but not enough jobs.
He said, "I think the chance to revitalize and bring jobs to that area is better than the short term."
He stated, "This is an opportunity I think for CHA to act responsibility," saying he recommended the board accept the city's offer.
Commissioner Eddie Holmes said he had made a personal commitment to the community, as it was where he grew up. He said, "I feel really good about where this community is going."
He continued, "I personally think the best for it would be to generate some type of opportunity in the community."