West buys Red Cross building,

By Lance Coleman
Senior reporter
Blount Today

Steve West has bought the former Red Cross building on Church Street in downtown Maryville. The businessman and Chevrolet dealer said Tuesday that a restaurant operation is considering leasing the facility.

West said he bought the 4,000 square foot, two-story building about two weeks ago for $216,000. Even though the building didn’t appraise for what the Red Cross wanted, West said he got the organization the price they wanted for the building.

"It was $216,000 was what it appraised for and they wanted $400,000," he said. "My family did a gift to the Red Cross to make up the difference."

The building was bought through West Properties II, owned by Steve and his wife, Ruth West.

West said he bought the building for several reasons.

"I wanted to make sure it kept the historical look," he said of the Harper Building that formerly housed the Blount County Library. "I wanted something that brought tax revenue to Maryville and that would bring people downtown like everything we’ve done downtown. We love the architecture of the building and want something that will bring people into it."

The former mayor said a restaurant operation is considering leasing the facility.

"I’m working right now with some folks. We’re going to work with the city on meeting codes and such and discussing what kinds of changes we’re going to make," he said.

West said he wasn’t ready to identify the prospective client who’s considering opening up in the building.

"I (personally) am not going to make it restaurant. I own the building. I’m talking to people who want to do that," he said. "It’s a little early. It’s not together."

West said he was very familiar with the history of the structure. He said he had been in the building when it was a library, and he was affiliated with the Red Cross, as was his father Charles West, when that organization operated out of that building. "The architecture of the building is beautiful. We wanted to make sure it stays that way," he said. "We need to preserve it and use it."

At 4,000 square feet over two floors, the structure is not a very big building, West said. While he didn’t have a timetable in mind, West said it would probably take 60 to 90 days to get the facility ready for business after a lease was signed.

"The building is in good shape. We just have to bring it up to code. We’d have to put in a kitchen and handicap accessibility," he said.

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