City Buying Lee Highway Motel For $2,785,000 To Provide Affordable Housing, Eliminate Blight

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The city of Chattanooga is buying a motel on Lee Highway for $2,785,000 with officials saying the aim is to provide affordable housing and eliminate blight.

It is the Airport Inn at 7725 Lee Highway.

The purchase is from Sunlight LLC.

The purchase comes with all beds and other fixtures as well as linens and other supplies.

City officials have in the past put up some homeless individuals temporarily in local motels. There has been discussion about the city buying a motel for that purpose. However, District 6 Councilwoman Carol Berz bristled at that characterization for this project and hit "misinformation" about it.

She said it will have efficiency units as well as one-bedroom and two-bedroom offerings.

She said it is planned that community groups, including Silverdale Baptist Church, will be involved in supporting the project. She said Silverdale officials would be involved in drafting a Request for Proposals for managing the refurbished motel.

She said, "Some very creditable people will be involved. Hopefully, this will become a trend." She said some sections of her district are afflicted with "blighted properties and flop houses."

Councilman Darrin Ledford said he had gone on late night rides with police officers and often visited the Airport Inn to check on problems and issues.

He said, "It is not a healthy place for our community."

Jermaine Freeman, city economic development administrator, said the property has 73 units with 29,317 square feet of space. He said there are some suites.

He said the city would hire out the management.

Mr. Freeman said no city money will be involved in the purchase. It will be made with proceeds of the American Rescue Plan (federal stimulus funds).  It will be the first chunk out of the $39 million to the city from the latest stimulus.

However, Mr. Freeman indicated that city funds would be involved in ongoing operation of the motel. He said the rents would not be sufficient to cover the expenses.

 

 

 


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