Cobb’s new Concord pitch: no apartments

One week before a rezoning request was to be considered by Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission — which could have set the stage for 151 low-income apartments along Concord Road — the applicant and the property owner pulled the application.

Craig Cobb of DGA Capital, LLC, the affordable housing branch of Dominion Development Corporation — listed as the applicant — e-mailed KKCP planner Michelle Portier Wednesday, Sept. 2, asking the rezoning request from Neighborhood Commercial to Planned Residential — a Sept. 10 agenda item for KKCP’s regular meeting — be pulled.

“We will no longer be pursuing this project at the proposed location,” Cobb added in his e-mail.

Additionally, Portier confirmed the property owner, Laumar Properties, LLC, also asked the request be pulled.

In a separate e-mail, Cobb, who is a Farragut native and 2003 Farragut High School graduate — and a former Admirals and Tennessee Vols standout baseball pitcher — explained why he pulled the request.

“I pulled our application after speaking with Knox Planning,” he said. “They indicated that they were not going to recommend approving our proposed re-zoning.  

“While the reactions were disappointing to read, we now have a complete understanding of the community’s concerns,” Cobb added. “I will continue to look for opportunities to build quality affordable housing communities in Knox County and the Southeast, especially in high-opportunity areas where there is a lack of affordable housing options.  

“I look forward to having an open dialogue with communities and their leaders in the future.”

The proposed project along Concord Road had been a hot discussion point, not only among residents near the proposed apartments unhappy about the proposal, but also among Farragut elected officials, as its Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed a resolution Aug. 13 formally opposing the request.

As the property is located in Farragut’s Urban Growth Boundary, KKCP was required to notify the Town of the application to rezone. It is also located in Knox County’s 5th District, represented by Knox County Commissioner John Schoonmaker, who also opposed the rezoning and e-mailed area residents, advising them of the proposal and suggesting they e-mail Portier with their thoughts.

Portier notified Schoonmaker of Cobb’s Sept. 2 decision, and the Republican Commissioner — recently elected vice chairman of the Knox County Commission — shared an e-mail Thursday, Sept. 3, to his constituents with the “good news” that there would be no apartments. He also thanked them for their efforts on getting the word out, and asked comments to Portier cease.

While negative feedback may have ultimately impacted the KKCP vote, Schoonmaker said it was his understanding the developers “did not do their due diligence preliminarily” during the application process.

“In general, applicants try to gain as much information about property rights and restrictions before filling out the application— much of which can be gleaned from KGIS (Knoxville Geographic Information System),” he said.

“First of all, they put down the wrong commission district on the application,” Schoonmaker added, noting it incorrectly listed the property as being in the 9th District.

“In talking with Town of Farragut officials, the applicant also apparently was not aware that Concord Road is under the jurisdiction of Farragut or that it was in their Urban Growth Boundary.”

In addition, “They spent $2,642 on the application, but they may not have done all their homework first,” he said.

Schoonmaker also said fast action by BOMA “put the KKCP on notice” regarding the project’s potential ramifications. “Taking that action really helped.”

Town Mayor Ron Williams said he was “very pleased” the project was scuttled. “It was the wrong place and the wrong zoning. It was not the right project at all.”

With its Neighborhood Commercial zoning, this property could lend itself to small shops, similar to those occupying The Markets at Choto, off Northshore Drive.