(WDEF) Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke says one goal of his fiscal year 2014 budget is strengthening Scenic City neighborhoods. He said, "We own blighted properties. We've got to stop that. And so by putting these parcels back into the market, we're changing communities. That helps the city, that helps the people who buy this property and it helps the entire neighborhood."
Mayor Berke hopes his Affordable Housing Pilot Program will let the Economic and Community Development Department do just that. He added, "What we've done is essentially take pieces of property that currently have zero value to the neighborhood; in fact, negative value to the neighborhood, really aren't doing anything for the city. We're going to put them back on the tax roll. We're going to make them assets to the neighborhood and we're going to provide a need for people which is quality, affordable housing."
The city will work with developers to convert what's now considered a drag on its neighborhood into taxable property that working individuals can afford.
Donna Williams is the director of the Economic and Community Development Department. She said, "We will allow developers to take more than one property. We'll have an open process and as many experienced developers as are interested can apply."
Even though the goal is to add taxable property to this vacant lot, some Avondale residents wonder exactly what type of housing would be built. Nathaniel Featherstone said, "A single family home would be great, because we need homes for people to get in. But as far as apartments and duplexes like that, I don't think that would bring it up anyway."
Mayor Berke said he expects his Affordable Housing Pilot Program to increase connectivity and a shared sense of community.
It will also benefit private developers by generating business for them.