It’s been in the works for months, and officials announced on Tuesday that a local company has purchased the historic but rundown Alexander Inn.
Family Pride Corp. plans to convert the vacant two-story hotel into an assisted living center.
The sale was announced by the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance, a key player in the project. A press release said the agreement announced Tuesday includes a preservation easement with ETPA that will ensure the building is protected forever.
Here is more information from the press release:
The Alexander Inn has been listed on ETPA’s annual East Tennessee’s Endangered Heritage list since 2010, and this sale marks a significant milestone for ETPA and preservation efforts across the region. ETPA President Scott Brooks said “the Alexander Inn project is exactly why ETPA was established, and this is a perfect example of the work we will continue to do in East Tennessee.”
Family Pride Corp. is one of the region’s leading preservation companies with successful projects in Loudon, Lenoir City, and Knoxville. Most of its projects have been rehabilitating iconic, historic buildings into assisted living facilities. The company plans to transform the Manhattan Project-era hotel into a state-of-the-art assisted living facility. Rick Dover, manager for Family Pride Corp., is working with local historians, the City of Oak Ridge, and ETPA to restore the building so it is once again an asset to the community. Dover and Family Pride Corporation previously have been awarded two East Tennessee Preservation Awards for other rehabilitation projects in Loudon.
Dover said: “The Guest House-Alexander Inn is a significant building in the story of our country. It occupies an important place, both physically and historically, in Oak Ridge. Family Pride Corporation is both pleased and proud to partner with ETPA, Knox Heritage, and the people of Oak Ridge to save this fragile remaining piece of Oak Ridge’s history. There are many new and exciting things happening now in Oak Ridge, and we would like to thank the leadership at the city of Oak Ridge and at ETPA and Knox Heritage for their determination and support in saving the Guest House-Alexander Inn.”
“Today’s transition of the Alexander Inn is truly a great day for the Oak Ridge community,” said Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan. “We are grateful to all the partners—the U.S. Department of Energy, ETPA, and of course, Family Pride, for their investment that will bring new life to this historical facility.”
Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson added, “The restoration of the Alexander Inn will not only help secure the revitalization of Historic Jackson Square but will also preserve the building for future generations which may one day visit the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.”
In November 2011, the Department of Energy convened stakeholders for the demolition of the East Tennessee Technology Park, which was historically known as K-25. The K-25 site is where uranium was processed for the Manhattan Project. Since the building was a contributing historic structure, the DOE was required to offset the loss by creating a comprehensive mitigation package to ensure the building’s legacy will survive beyond the demolition. One part of the Memorandum of Agreement allocated a $500,000 grant to ETPA for the purchase ($350,000) and partial stabilization ($150,000) of the Alexander Inn.
“We’re excited this transaction is final and that one of the most significant buildings from the Manhattan Project remains a landmark for a new generation of Oak Ridgers,” said Mark Whitney, manager of the Oak Ridge Environmental Management Program. “A lot of people are to be commended for the success of developing the K-25 MOA, but today special recognition goes to ETPA for their leadership in finding a viable solution to preserving the Alexander Inn.”
The lengthy MOA process included input from the National Park Service, the Tennessee Historical Commission, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the City of Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge Heritage Preservation Association, and many others. The MOA requires that the Alexander Inn be restored within a certain timeframe and according to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, which will ensure the historic integrity of the building is maintained. Additionally, ETPA will hold a preservation easement to protect the building forever.
In December 2009, Oak Ridge Revitalization Effort acquired the building, sought grants, spoke with developers and engineers, organized countless volunteer work days, and sponsored events to raise awareness and funds to preserve the building.
“We worked diligently in trying to save and preserve this historic property,” said ORRE Board President Mary Cox. “We wish to thank ORHPA for their ongoing support during this process. Most of all, we are grateful to ETPA for their determination in finding a qualified developer and a final solution to saving the building.”
Oak Ridge’s Industrial Development Board coordinated the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement for the Alexander Inn project. Citizens National Bank is the lending agent for the project.
Initial stabilization work will begin at the site in the next few weeks, and a formal groundbreaking ceremony will be announced soon.
The East Tennessee Preservation Alliance works to protect places and structures with historic or cultural significance in Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier, and Union counties. It is governed by a board of directors with representatives from across the region. ETPA carries out its mission through a variety of programs and encourages community support through education and advocacy. To get involved with ETPA’s advocacy efforts, please call (865) 523-8008 or visit www.etpaonline.org.