Reposting because this was an informative release from the City:
Starting July 7, $1.5 million in demolition work will begin at Lakeshore Park, as crews raze nine surplus buildings that were once part of the state of Tennessee’s Lakeshore Mental Health Institute campus.
NEO Corp., which has a local office in Knoxville and is headquartered in Canton, N.C., was awarded the competitive bid, which came in under budget.
Over nine months, nine of the largest buildings at Lakeshore Park will be taken down.
A patchwork of antiquated utilities – water, sewer, gas and electric lines – that in some cases predate World War II will be upgraded starting later this year.
In addition to the demolition and utility work, the City is renovating the historic Lakeshore Administration Building – a $1.1 million project that restores 14,115 square feet of space. This building was constructed in 1884 and overlooks much of Lakeshore Park.
All combined, the City will be spending about $5.2 million this year on infrastructure, demolition and other improvements at Lakeshore Park, setting the stage for private fundraising and implementation of an ambitious park master plan over the next two decades.
“We’ll really be able to start building this park up once these obstacles are removed,” said Joe Walsh, the City’s Parks and Recreation Director. “We’ll have a blank canvas to work with.”
The City’s infrastructure and demolition work will leverage grants and private fundraising by the nonprofit Lakeshore Park Inc. as pieces of the sweeping park master plan are put into place over the next 20 years.
For example, one of the planned park improvements outlined in the master plan will be a near doubling in length of the Lakeshore Park Greenway, from 2.25 miles to over 4 miles.
The City’s current round of work will remove unsafe buildings that attract vagrants and trespassers, with utility services at the park to be modernized in the coming year. But aesthetic improvement – creating open, natural areas in Lakeshore Park – is another big part of why the City is investing in these projects.
“When these buildings are gone, the park property will look incredible,” Walsh said. “People will notice the different feel of Lakeshore Park.”
“When we surveyed our park users on what they’d most like to see at Lakeshore, the consensus comment was to preserve the natural look. Park visitors want to feel as if they’re not in an urban area. In this step, we’re removing the old dilapidated buildings and replacing them with grass. This will make it a greener space, a greener experience, for park users.”
Five former state-owned buildings will remain at Lakeshore Park: Two cottages, the Administration Building, the chapel and a central services warehouse.
To be razed, in this order, will be the upholstery building, smoke stack, laundry building, Waterside Building, Department of Health Building, Chota Building, Village Mall, Baker Building, Keller Building, and the boilerhouse.
“This is a huge step in transitioning the park to be an even greater community asset,” said David Brace, the City’s Public Service Director, whose crews maintain City park properties.
For more information on the Lakeshore Park master plan or to see the results of a survey of more than 500 park users on their redevelopment preferences, visit http://www.cityofknoxville.org/lakeshore or http://www.lakeshoreparkknoxville.org.