On Tuesday evening, Knoxville City Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute a purchase and sale agreement with the Knoxville Science Museum Inc., allowing the Clayton Family Foundation to claim property located on 800 Howard Baker, Jr. Avenue and 0 East Hill Avenue.
The project was first announced by the Jim Clayton during Mayor Rogero’s State of the City address in April 2018. According to her address, the 150,000-square-foot and three-story science museum with easy access to highways and good visibility will be opening its doors in the late 2020s in Downtown Knoxville. The construction will be done by a team from BarberMcMurry Architects on the city’s police headquarters on Howard Baker Jr. Avenue.
Constance Every, an activist, expressed her concerns on the contract and its lack of the city’s interest.
“You are selling this property for one dollar to a multi-millionaire,” she said.
She added that the fate of land in Knoxville should be up to Knoxville city and its people but not the Clayton Family Foundation. There was a brief intervention by several activists during Rogero’s announcement on the project.
Despite a several activists opposing the council’s votes on the resolution via public hearing session, the resolution unanimously passed. Mayor Rogero said that she thinks the Knoxville Science Museum is a gift to Knoxville community and the neighborhood.
“It’s a major gift to this community and I want to thank Jim Clayton again for this gift … particularly the folks who live in that neighborhood,” Rogero said.
After the brief intervention, Mayor Rogero added, “I stand by what I said. It is a gift and I appreciate the gift that you are making. … I think it’s a good contract and encourage council to move forward with it.”
Councilman Andrew Roberto expressed his support for the science museum as well.
“I really think that this museum is something that is going to be a big benefit to the city of Knoxville and I think it will help with instilling a life-long learning desire in so many our children and our citizens,“ he said.
Councilwoman Lauren Rider stated her thoughts on the project.
“I’m a science major … I realize lots of kids don’t choose careers in those areas because they are not exposed to that so I’m excited about that opportunity in exposing a lot of kids to something that they wouldn’t have gotten exposed to otherwise,” Rider said.
The next Knoxville City Council meeting is scheduled on December 17th starting at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Assembly Room of the City Council building, 400 Main Street.