Bible College, "Bargain Price"

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Going, going, gone? Not quite yet, but if Knox County Commission approves it, an East Knoxville church will get a building that once housed a branch library, and health department clinic, for little more than half the property's assessed value.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd is live at that site, with more on why it happened.

And why both church and county see it as a good deal all around.

The short answer why is that the church had the highest bid, at a fairly low-profile auction.

The bigger picture: the church's, and the county's vision, for revitalizing this stretch of East Knoxville.

"It's a deal we couldn't pass up," says Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church Pastor Tony Crisp.

Buying the old Burlington Branch Library means Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church can expand its Pastor's college, the Harvest Institute For Biblical Studies, 2 years earlier than planned.

"It's close to our church, really within sight of the steeple," says Crisp. "Think we got a great deal. It was appraised at $750,000 and we got it for 420, and that's what it took."

"We're pretty pleased with the price that it brought to us, but beyond that we're pretty pleased with the new owners," Community Services Director Cynthia Finch says Knox County is looking at a bigger picture of what the move buys.

The New Burlington Branch library costs $2.8 million, but offers almost triple the space. "With the largest computer lab in the whole system."

And likely, a UT outreach Center for Architecture, Business, Nursing, and maybe law. "We'll have a health department that is located smack dab in the middle of the community that has some challenges as it relates to health care," Finch says.

Knox County's spent more than $400,000 expanding and renovated the Hardy Center on MLK.

Rent's $487,000 for ten years, for little more space than had the health department taken over the old Burlington building when the library moved out.

But, "We're serving a larger reach of individuals," Finch says.

"We can get it ready for classes, before the end of August," Pastor Crisp says.

The New Bible College will be on the tax rolls. A private corporation actually will own the building. It'll pay based on a re-assessment after renovations. Assuming it'd assess at three quarter million, that works out to more than $16,000 in city/county property taxes combined.

As for how a church wound up the high bidder at auction, "I think those that were interested came," Finch says.

In fact, Doctor Tony Crisp says he never would have known about the auction had he not seen the sign out front, three weeks before last Friday's bidding.

Knox County says commercial brokers expected the property could have brought anywhere from $300,000 to a million, based not so much on the building, but the corner lot at Asheville Highway across from a Kroger and Walgreens.