Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) and Central Bearden Church officially reopened the Lighthouse at First Creek at Austin on Nov. 30, fulfilling a promise to return the on-site, faith-based organization to the housing community.
The Lighthouse, part of Central Bearden’s community outreach, provides after-school tutoring for grades 1-8, a children’s ministry, mentoring for high school students, back-to-school backpack drive with supplies, a women’s Bible study group and other services for residents.
During the construction of First Creek at Austin, which started in 2020, the nonprofit shifted to in-home visits for relocated residents to continue the programs that had been in place for 25 years. First Creek at Austin is built on the site of the former Austin Homes, which was established in 1941 on nearly 23 acres just east of downtown.
“As a critical step in the master planning process, we talked to residents and other stakeholders about what they wanted in a new housing community,” KCDC Executive Director and CEO Ben Bentley said. “Ensuring that the Lighthouse returned to the revitalized community was important to both residents and KCDC, and we are glad to provide this new and improved space for the Lighthouse’s services to continue.”
The site has undergone a transformation into the city’s first mixed-income, affordable housing community with different styles of buildings and floor plans and amenities that include a fitness center, resident lounge, playground and Wi-Fi in common areas, along with greenspaces and connectivity to downtown.
“We have been eager to return to the site when First Creek at Austin opened, and the transformation of the community is incredible and inspiring,” said Lighthouse missionary Jeanette Witt. “We are seeing familiar faces and getting to know new ones as we restart our on-site services to children and families. We thank KCDC for ensuring our return and the opportunity to continue our ministry and outreach directly in the community.”