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Harriman prepares for second ‘Great Land Sale’

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By Cindy Simpson

Now is the time for anyone interested in locating in downtown Harriman to take a good look around.
Officials announced that more than a dozen city-owned buildings, including the former home of Roane Medical Center, will be available for tours in coming months.
Mayor Chris Mason said the city has fielded a lot of questions about the fate of the buildings vacated by the hospital, which moved to a new building in Midtown.
“We are in somewhat of a fortunate situation in that we own 14 buildings that are being vacated by the hospital, and the Harriman Industrial (Development) Board has the ability to sell the properties rather than auction them off like a municipality would,” Mason said in a news release.
He hopes to see a varied presence in those buildings.
“We need a mix of small retail and residential ... to be successful,” Mason said.
The city has been working with the industrial development board and the Knoxville Community and Development Corp. on an Urban Renewal and Revitalization District program.
Interested parties can talk to the Roane County Chamber of Commerce, city officials, state representatives and KCDC to answer questions about the area and details about the Urban Renewal and Redevelopment program and properties.
The Urban Renewal and Redevelopment District was formed to focus on an area of downtown the city wanted to develop, including dealing with properties that had fallen into disrepair in that area.
Mason said he thinks the city is in the perfect situation right now.
“We will be able to be picky (about) who we do let come in,” Mason said.
In other words, they could sell the building to someone that fits their vision of downtown, not just go for the highest price.
“The Industrial Development Board has the option of setting the price  for each building and be as aggressive as needed, in order to entice developers to come back to our downtown, once again making our revitalization easier than other places we have visited,” Mason said.
“The tour will be the start of a two week process where the Industrial Development Board will accept letters or requests for use/purchase for each building. Some things that the board will consider will be the proposed use as well as the price. We want to be sure that we are attracting and getting quality buyers for these buildings that will add to and enhance our downtown,” Mason said.
He compares this new endeavor to the city’s origins, when the East Tennessee Land Co. marketed to buyers and invited them to come to the “Great Land Sale.”
Mason said there has already been a number of interested parties considering locating boutiques, antique stores, restaurants and other endeavors downtown.
“We’ve had about 11 different letters of intent from different people,” Mason said.