About the Project


Kingsport, TN

Choice Neighborhoods Lead Grantee: Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority
Target Public Housing Project: Robert E. Lee Apartments
Target Neighborhood: Midtown
Choice Neighborhoods Grant Amount: $300,000

Key Partners

Urban Collage (Planning Coordinator), City of Kingsport, Greater Kingsport Alliance for Development, Eastern Eight Community Development, Northeast State Community College, Kingsport Boys and Girls Club, Literacy Council of Kingsport, Operation Breakthrough (Head Start), Rural Health Services Consortium, Frontier Health, City of Kingsport Police and Fire Department, Employability Training & Consulting Services, Alliance for Business & Training, Sullivan County Department of Human Services, Eastman Chemical, Domtar, City of Kingsport Economic Development, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Kingsport Tomorrow, South Central Kingsport Community Development Corporation, Kingsport Area Transport Service, Wellmont’s Holston Valley Medical Center, The Fresh Start Foundation, and United Way of Greater Kingsport.

Project Summary

In the early 20th century, Midtown Kingsport was a center of the paper products, publishing, textiles, chemicals, glass and cement manufacturing sectors and a regional employment magnet. However, Kingsport could not escape the inner city and downtown deterioration that began in the 1970s and occurred throughout the U.S. as businesses fled the downtown area for the suburbs. Crime and drugs moved in and accelerated the exodus of families outside the city. Living conditions in the Midtown neighborhood spiraled downward the neighborhood became a center for criminal activity. Today, many of the residential and commercial structures are deteriorated. The poverty rate is 40.02 percent and the long-term vacancy rate is 17.88 percent. Lee Apartments’ 128 public housing units are highly concentrated and the most distressed housing in the neighborhood.

However, the Midtown neighborhood includes the historic downtown area, where major public and private investments are planned and underway. The Choice Neighborhoods initiative in Kingsport, led by the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Urban Collage as the planning coordinator, will leverage and build upon these existing plans and investments. A stakeholder steering committee will guide planning activities. Focus groups will be formed around critical issues such as health, education, and safety. KHRA, Urban Collage, the stakeholder steering committee and the focus groups will design, administer and implement a four-part transformation planning process over the 24-month grant-planning period. An independent monitoring and evaluation entity will track progress. The resulting Transformation Plan will provide a roadmap for the revitalization of Midtown with the following objectives: increased access to educational opportunities and training to prepare neighborhood residents for well-paying jobs; access to improved education; shopping and employment; transportation, parks and recreation; housing and neighborhood improvements; and public safety to attract new residents who want to live closer to their employment.