The Redevelopment Of Antioch TN Has Made The Neighbourhood Flourish

Wow do I remember going to Hickory Hollow Mall. It isn’t named that anymore I see, as it is called Commons at the Crossings. Through that transition, it appears that the neighborhood of Antioch had a really difficult time economically. Now, however, a redevelopment and resurgence of that area has meant significant improvement in regards to the economy. In fact, that area of the neighborhood of Antioch is now said to be the 2nd largest employment center in the city of Nashville.

I can imagine that there are all kinds of new stores and restaurants there now. It is a nice area of Nashville, but it was so heavily reliant upon it’s mall. It is no secret that malls are struggling nationwide, and that didn’t help matters. Not all redevelopments of areas that housed malls are going to flourish right away either.

In the case of Antioch, it worked out great. It is amazing how the area was able to turn around that quickly. I will tell you what though. I remember going to Hickory Hollow Mall, and it was a fun time for sure. Now Hickory Hollow Mall is just memories because as mentioned, it was replaced by Commons at the Crossings. In this instance, the area took on new strip malls and individual stores.

It is interesting how a change of landscape with new stores in a different setting makes such a big difference. Antioch is now set to thrive for years to come and be part of the growth of Nashville. It also seems like it is going to be one major traffic jam. It’s a good traffic jam though, and now they can work on that issue. Whether you live in Antioch or not, it also seems like a great place to get a good job.

Plans to build Antioch charter school one step closer to reality

Rocketship Education’s proposal to build a charter school in Antioch has moved closer to becoming a reality.

ANTIOCH — Plans to open another charter school in Antioch advanced this month with planning commissioners’ endorsement of the proposal.

The Antioch Planning Commission forwarded Rocketship Public Schools’ construction project to the city for final approval, recommending in a 5-0 vote Nov. 1 that council members rezone the Cavallo Road site to allow construction of an elementary school campus.

Commissioners also were unanimous on several other fronts: They advised the City Council to issue Rocketship the conditional use permit the city requires of all schools before they can open, as well as to accept the nonprofit’s state-mandated analysis of the project’s environmental effects.

In addition, they agreed that the city should allow the school to erect a 6-foot wrought-iron fence along the front of its property.

The Redwood City-based organization, formerly known at Rocketship Education, already has bought the 1.7-acre site at 1700 Cavallo Road, where a now-vacant office building housed the East County Times until the newspaper relocated to a Lone Tree Way business park this summer.

Rocketship plans to demolish the structure and replace it with a 31,052-square-foot, two-story campus that will accommodate up to 600 students from 4-year-olds in transitional kindergarten to fifth-graders.

The charter school network currently operates 18 schools in three states and Washington, D.C.; it’s aiming to open the Antioch campus in August 2018.

This would be the third charter school in the city; the two others are K-8 facilities, one of which leases space on the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds. The other, located on Hacienda Way, uses district buildings along with portable classrooms that the school itself bought.

Although charter schools are publicly funded, state law allows them more independence than traditional schools in the curriculum they offer and other aspects of their operation as a way to encourage innovation.

Planning commission Chairwoman Janet Zacharatos likes the fact that Rocketship’s focus is serving children who have been attending low-performing schools in poor neighborhoods.

“Their (test) scores are very impressive compared to what Antioch Unified’s scores are,” she said, adding that the nonprofit operation is effective in encouraging parents to help out in classrooms and otherwise take an active role in their child’s education.

Although Rocketship schools are open to students anywhere, those in the Antioch Unified School District will have priority.

Rocketship will start accepting applications Nov. 15. At the beginning of this month it already had received 480 forms from parents within the district indicating they intend to enroll their child, and more than 200 from families elsewhere, said Marie Gil, Rocketship’s Bay Area regional director.

There will be a lottery in March.

Parking and crime were among the concerns that arose during last week’s discussion of the project.

City staff members advised planning commissioners against approving the 49 parking spaces that Rocketship plans to provide on site, saying it wouldn’t be enough to accommodate both employees and visitors unless the school reduces enrollment from 600 to 400 students.

In addition, Police Chief Tammany Brooks has voiced doubts about building a school in one of the city’s highest crime areas.

The police department last year logged 431 calls for service within a ¼-mile radius of the Cavallo Road and East 18th St. intersection, where there is a liquor store as well as a mini-mart that sells alcohol. Two motels and apartments are also in the immediate area.

The findings prompted the city to install three surveillance cameras at that spot.

The police department recommended that Rocketship hire two armed security guards to monitor the area while parents are dropping off children and picking them up.

But the organization objected, saying in a memo that the presence of weapons “communicates the wrong message to both our families and students.”

“To have an armed security guard at an elementary school essentially validates the misconception that communities that have … higher incidents of poverty require a higher level of security,’’ Gil said.

She noted that after Rocketship opened its Washington, D.C. school, crime in the area actually decreased.

Gil added that her organization will track the number of times it has to call police and keep written records of incidents to determine whether the neighborhood around the Antioch school improves as well.

Rocketship compromised by agreeing to include security personnel — without weapons — among its security measures, which range from equipping every window with motion sensors connected to the alarm system and tightly controlling visitors’ access to the campus to installing surveillance cameras that the receptionist can monitor.

As to the question of parking, the Planning Commission decided that the school could operate with 49 parking spaces and 600 children.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the recommendations at its meeting Tuesday; if it adopts them, Rocketship can apply for a building permit.

The council meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 200 H St.

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New workforce housing announced for Sevier Co.

Photo from December 6, 2016 of the Lodge at Buckberry Creek after the Gatlinburg fires.

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) – Sevier County announced they are building new workforce housing, designed to help the many people affected by last November’s deadly wildfires, which destroyed than 2,500 structures.

According to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, the $15 million for the project over ten years comes from a pool of tax credits that the agency set aside to help build affordable housing.

THDA executive director Ralph Perrey described the importance of the project, which he says will benefit the driving work force in Sevier County.

“That has always been an important part for this community, because you have a lot of folks who work hard, but don’t necessarily make a great deal of money because they are employed seasonally,” said Perrey. “But they do important things in the community. They are an important part of the economic engine of Sevier County. And we want them to have affordable, safe places to live that are also close to the places where they are going to work.

THDA says there will be two sites, one just north of Smokies Stadium in Kodak that includes 80 units. The units will be one, two and three bedrooms with a playground, community room and computer area. The other site will be in Gatlinburg and will be comprised of 60 units.

Work will begin in next summer and leases will start in the fall of 2018.

For the first time in more than a decade, a Knoxville…

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