History of the Site

Beaumont Western Heights
Western Heights is KCDC's largest affordable housing property, and dates back to 1940 when the first families moved into the community.
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In 1939, the Knoxville Housing Authority (KHA) announced plans for the “largest single construction project ever received at City Hall.” Western Heights was hailed as a wonder that would lift hundreds of low-income families living in crowded dilapidated tenements and single shacks in slums. The 244-unit Western Heights Housing was more than just a housing complex; it included park-like land shaded with many trees, a splash pad, baseball diamond, library, teen club, Works Progress Administration (WPA) Adult Education School, Red Cross classes and a Sunday school. Over the years, these amenities have disappeared.

The Western Heights Addition, completed in 1952 with approximately $4.5 million in federal funds, consisted of 93 buildings containing 444 new dwellings. A 94th building is a non-dwelling structure used for the management office and maintenance shop. In 2010, 248 units within 55 buildings in Western Heights Addition were removed due to significant deterioration.

Collaborative partnerships have existed in the neighborhood since the creation of Western Heights, most notably beginning in the early years with the Red Cross and the City Library System. Even prior to the Transforming Western initiative, partners operating and providing services within the neighborhood included The Center at Western Heights (formerly the Baptist Center), Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.

Due to its age and condition, the housing in Western Heights is in serious need of attention. With the need identified, significant resident input and collaborative partnerships in place, Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) secured a $40 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2022 for the Western Heights and Beaumont neighborhoods.


Through an intensive planning process, KCDC convened more than 100 area nonprofits and businesses to bring the residents’ vision to life and revitalize the neighborhoods. There is a continued focus on developing a sense of community, which can be seen in the many events and activities that have been happening at the site since 2021. Residents have helped plan and enjoy spring community resource fairs, fall back-to-school events, Easter egg hunts and monthly educational events. In collaboration with the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC), resident engagement continues to be an important part of the planning process. CAC continues to implement programs that have positive effects on resident welfare, including food access, workforce development, educational obtainment and health services.

KCDC currently is renovating the original Western Heights property and will return 232 units of housing to the neighborhood. These units will have updated exteriors including porches and new roofs.


Through the Choice Neighborhoods grant, all 196 units within the Western Heights Addition will be demolished and rebuilt. In addition, 183 units of affordable housing and 99 market rate units will be added. A new neighborhood center will include amenities requested by the residents and area partners that maintain northwest Knoxville’s long reputation for creating distinctive products for a lively market.

Transforming Western has well over 100 nonprofit and corporate partners engaged in this process. Some will be provide services to residents, others will support the construction of new homes, and some will physically move to the site as anchors for the new neighborhood center and provide the opportunity for economic development and wealth creation for residents.

To learn more about the history of the neighborhood, please watch Western Heights: History Reborn, a presentation by KCDC’s Benjamin Bentley and Marisa Moazen at the East Tennessee History Center in September 2023.

Interested in learning more about the History of Western Heights?

Flip through the following pages from the Western Heights Transformation Plan, which describe the rich history of Western Heights Knoxville.
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