Room for improvements

County buys land near courthouse
Nov. 21, 2012 @ 11:33 PM

The county commission has agreed to pay $2 million for property along Main Street and near the county courthouse for a new parking lot and archives building.

The property, owned by Johnny Waters, currently has more than 50 parking spaces, and covers 1.35 acres. It includes two businesses, the Odd Shop and Sevier Pawn and Loan, that currently have leases. County Mayor Larry Waters, who is unrelated to the owner, said the county has agreed to honor those leases until they expire on June 30, 2014. The county also takes over a warehouse and former law office.

“It’s almost the whole block across the street (from the courthouse),” Larry Waters said. The commission agreed to pay $2 million for the property, just under its appraised value.

The county, and the City of Sevierville, have been looking to increase the public parking in downtown Sevierville and around the courthouse for several years. The City of Sevierville had at one time been looking at building a parking garage downtown, but is currently looking to use property it owns downtown for street level parking.

The property the county purchased currently includes more than 50 parking spaces as is, and could eventually include more depending on what they decide to do with the other buildings after the tenants depart, Waters said.

The existing archives, which are beside the headquarters of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, are filled to capacity, Waters said, and they haven’t been able to take records from any county department for months.

With the commission’s approval, they still have to complete the closing on the property, but Waters said they hope to finish that by the end of December.

As soon as that’s done, they hope to open the parking lot and get the archives department set up to start accepting records.

“We’ll probably move as quick as we can after the first of the year to do both, to open the parking and to move archives,” Waters said.