Town set to purchase former church site as new senior/community center

Following months of speculation and a lot of behind the scenes work, Town of Farragut has announced the tentative purchase of a facility that will not only serve as the Town’s Parks & Leisure Services department and Community Center, but also will be shared with Knox County as its new West Knox Senior Center location.

The Town tentatively has agreed to purchase the former Faith Lutheran Church building, 239 Jamestown Blvd., for $2 million, which had been allotted in the budget under Land Acquisition in its Capital Investment Fund.

The Town Board of Mayor and Aldermen will discuss the acquisition in a workshop session starting at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 12, in Town Hall board room prior to the start of its regular meeting at 7 p.m., during which the Board is expected vote on pursuing the purchase.

While that will be the first step for Farragut, the purchase agreement is contingent upon approval of a Memorandum of Understanding with Knox County government for it to utilize a portion of the 35,900 square-foot building for relocation of the current Frank R. Strang Senior Center located along Lovell Heights Road.

Fifth District Knox County Commissioner John Schoonmaker, whose district includes Farragut and Concord, said the issue is expected to be voted on at the Commission’s regular monthly meeting Monday, July 23.

Schoonmaker, who has made it a top priority to relocate the overcrowded Strang Center since he took office in 2015, said Monday, July 9, he is “thrilled” with the news.

“I have looked at several properties as we have searched for a new location, and the Lutheran Church has always been my No. 1 choice if we could do it. The accessibility, its size and opportunity for growth were the best options we found, and I believe this will be a great opportunity for both Farragut and the county,” he said.

Farragut interim Mayor Ron Pinchok agreed. “It is great that Farragut and the county have such a good relationship, and I am really excited about how this (collaboration) has developed to where we are now,” he said.

According to a report from Farragut Town administrator David Smoak to Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen included in the agenda packet for the meeting July 12, the property lies on 5.72 acres and the building offers 35,900 square feet. The report states the Town would occupy a little more than 16,500 square feet and the rest would be divided equally into space for Knox County and shared amenities to include a gymnasium, stage, commercial kitchen, restroom/shower facilities and an elevator.

Expected upgrades that would include making it ADA compliant, among other issues, would fall to the county, which is promising $2 million for those renovations, according to the proposed Memorandum of Understanding.

Other Farragut officials contacted declined comment as of press deadline Tuesday, July 10.