Should East Towne Mall space hold government offices? Lawmaker says yes

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The vacant Tennessee Valley Authority East Tower in Downtown Knoxville may soon be home to the Knox County Schools offices. But one local officials hopes to change that.

East Towne Mall (Source: WVLT)

East Towne Mall or Knoxville Center Mall is what Knox County Commissioner Charles Busler wants to see re-vamped.

His goal is to have the Knox County Schools and City County Building offices come together in this building.

He said Mayor Glenn Jacobs wants Knox County Schools to move into the vacant TVA building.

Busler said that agreement would be a 15-year easement with the federal government making it hard for the public to access the building. He said people would have to show their Real ID before being allowed to enter.

"It'll be a federal building, and we'll be isolating the school from the public who may want to come and visit them at that building."

There are contingencies in the works for people who don't have real IDs allowing them in on a floor to meet with people in a special room and board members having a boardroom where they have a special door to go through.

He also doesn't know how much this is going to cost taxpayers.

Additionally, they'd have to build a parking lot .

"The building would still be controlled by the federal government or TVA, which is an arm of the federal government. And they would have all control over it, and we would lose sovereignty over that building if we do the easement," explained Busler.

Busler said the Knox County government is growing, and they want a building that's growing with them.

"We could move as much as $200 million worth of economic power into that area. We have a place for the sheriff, we have a place for all the other departments, and the school system would be able to bring everything under one roof," explained Busler.

If his plan were to succeed, he'd like to see the City County building go up for private development to make money on it and put it back on the tax roll.

Since it sits along the Tennessee River, he thinks it could be extremely profitable.

The next meeting to advance these talks will be on Monday, December 9th.

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