Developer has plans for Oak Ridge's Alexander Inn

6:18 PM, Oct 1, 2012   |    comments
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After coming close to condemnation, developers have a plan for Oak Ridge's historic Alexander Inn.

Family Pride Corporation has applied to convert the building, also known as the "Guest House" into an assisted living center for seniors.

Historic preservation agencies have been trying to raise the funding to save the building since 2002.

Last month, the Department of Energy announced a $500,000 grant to allow the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance to purchase the building in anticipation of private development.

It was never intended to be lavish, but even by wartime standards the hotel has seen better days.

"It was WWII Spartan," said city historian Bill Wilcox. When he first came to Oak Ridge in 1942 it was the only hotel in town.

"Three dollars a half a night for a room with an adjoining bathroom," recollects Wilcox, and $2 if you were willing to walk down the hall.

Rent won't be that cheap--  but Family Pride Developer Rick Dover says they intend to make their center affordable.

"It would be really a historic preservation work on the outside, but the inside will be transformed, keeping all the existing walls," said Dover.

The corporation has lots of experience rehabbing historic buildings in Loudon County.

They'll soon also undertake the restoration of the Oakwood Elementary School in Knox County.

"Historic buildings really tell the story of our community," said Dover.

The $6 million project is projected to bring 40 jobs and according to their Industrial Development Board application it's company policy to hire locally when possible.

They anticipate a $2.7 million annual economic impact but Dover says they need an economic incentive program called a PILOT to make it all happen.

PILOT stands for Payment In Lieu Of Taxes. The program would allow Family Pride to defer paying taxes at the appreciated rate for 10 years. They would use that savings, estimated at $643,841 to invest in the project.

The IDB and city council are expected to vote on the issue this month.

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