The addition of a Head Start center is part of KCDC’s upcoming transformation of the Western Heights site through the Transforming Western initiative, a 15-month planning process for the future of Western Heights housing Beaumont neighborhoods.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (September 2021) – Children in the Western Heights and Beaumont neighborhoods will soon get a head start on learning in a new $5.4 million facility, . Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC), along with business and community leaders and members of the Western Heights community, officially broke ground on Sept. 8 on a Head Start facility at West Oldham Avenue and Reed Street that will provide comprehensive preschool programs for children infant to age 5.
The groundbreaking also marks the start of significant revitalization planned for Western Heights and the broader Beaumont neighborhood. Construction of the Head Start facility is expected to be completed in late 2022.
“Head Start changes the lives of children and their families living in the community, because it provides an early start to education,” KCDC Executive Director and CEO Ben Bentley said. “We want to provide neighborhoods where families can thrive, and today’s groundbreaking is made possible because of the combined efforts of our business and community partners. We especially appreciate the commitment of Western Heights residents to help lead the renewal of their neighborhood.”
Bentley was joined at the groundbreaking celebration by Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon; Knoxville Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie; Bob Whetsel, KCDC board chair; Barbara Kelly, executive director of CAC; and representatives of Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) and design, construction and financing partners.
The Head Start facility will serve more than 130 children, with four classrooms for infants and toddlers and six preschool classrooms inside 22,000 square feet of space. The site also features two playgrounds with covered and uncovered portions, a large multipurpose room and an expanded parking lot.
KCDC will lease the facility to CAC, which will operate the center and provide early childhood education; family services; health screenings; assistance with mental health and disabilities; free and nutritious meals; transportation to and from the Head Start; and dual-language learning programs.
The addition of a Head Start center is part of KCDC’s upcoming transformation of the Western Heights site and Beaumont neighborhood through the Transforming Western initiative, a 15-month planning process for the future of Western Heights housing, neighborhood and people. The process will culminate with KCDC applying in November for a $30 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant to fund neighborhood transformation.
Construction costs will be partially funded through Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC), which allows KCDC to raise private equity for the Head Start facility. Home Federal Bank of Tennessee is the mortgage lender, and the Knoxville Housing Development Corporation, a wholly-owned instrumentality of KCDC, will be the borrower.
McCarty Holsaple McCarty designed the Western Heights Head Start facility, and the construction contractor is Jenkins & Stiles. KCDC’s owner’s representative on the project is Blackburn Development Group.
The larger Transforming Western initiative is more than just replacement affordable housing. The plan will include rebuilding or significantly renovating the affordable housing already available at Western Heights – which was originally constructed in the 1930s – it includes more affordable housing units than currently on-site; additional units for people of varied income levels; and revitalization of the surrounding Beaumont neighborhood. The planning process began last February and also includes months of input from Western Heights residents and Beaumont neighborhood stakeholders.
About Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation:
Since 1936, KCDC has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of Knoxville and Knox County. KCDC’s mission is to improve and transform neighborhoods and communities by providing quality affordable housing, advancing development initiatives and fostering self-sufficiency. For more information, call 865-403-1100 or visit http://www.kcdc.org.