Just a few weeks ago, it seemed former Harlem Globetrotter Paul Gaffney was close to closing a deal to purchase the former Tennessee Meiji Gakuin campus in Sweetwater and turning it into a an international academic sports academy for high school students called GAPA (Gaffney Athletic Preparatory Academy).

During the Sweetwater Kiwanis Club meeting on April 6, Gaffney had highlighted his plans for the 144-acre campus that has sat idle for 10 years with the buildings and property decaying.

But as the weeks have passed, it became apparent no deal was forthcoming between the property owner and Gaffney. City Planning and Code Enforcement Officer Scott Wilson confirmed this past week that Gaffney has moved on from the TMG property. Wilson said issues over some of the language in the contract with TMG owner Dr. S.L. Freed had stopped the deal.

Wilson said, however, the good news is that Gaffney still wants to create his academy in Sweetwater.

“He is now pursuing other properties to do the same thing,” Wilson told The Advocate & Democrat.

Wilson said the city would now move forward seeking to have Freed fix safety issues on the property. The city had posted signs six months ago warning the public of dangerous conditions on the overgrown property and with the buildings, which the city says have fallen into disrepair. The city had eased off while Freed and Gaffney attempted to work out a deal.

Freed and the city are still at odds over back property taxes the city says is owed to it on the property. Wilson said the Equalization Board will have a hearing on the tax matter later this month.

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