published Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Chattanooga: Offices, restaurant planned for downtown

A Chattanooga development group has bought the former Towing Museum building in downtown Chattanooga and plans to refurbish it into offices and a restaurant.

“We think it’s a unique location,” said John Clark, a principal in Lincoln Partners LLC, which paid $1.15 million for the Broad and Fourth streets site.

Mr. Clark said Rock Point Books will stay on at the two-story building as an anchor tenant.

However, work will start soon on a new restaurant in the structure. He said the eatery is part of a chain and will have a local franchisee. Mr. Clark declined to give the restaurant’s name but said it is to open in the spring.

Also, plans are to turn about 7,500 square feet of second floor space into offices, he said.

Vision Hospitality Group had held the site, which it had bought along with the Chattanooga Regional History Museum building at Fourth and Chestnut streets.

Mitch Patel, Vision’s chief executive, said the company’s focus is on hotels and not on other kinds of development.

He said Vision still plans to build a Hampton Inn & Suites on the Chestnut parcel, though construction is “slightly delayed.”

“Hopefully, we’ll be starting construction this year, and it will open sometime in 2010,” Mr. Patel said about the 140-room hotel. “It’s a difficult time for any new project anywhere.”

Mr. Clark said Vision and his group plan to put up a parking garage on a lot next to the Broad Street building. Likely, that will be a two-level garage, he said.

Mr. Clark wouldn’t say how much is slated to be invested into the project but said the outside of the building won’t be altered in order to save its historic look. He believes the building was erected in the 1920s.

“We’re not changing anything about the exterior,” Mr. Clark said.

The location is across Fourth Street from a planned new Carmike movie theater. Workmen already have fenced off the entire block so work can begin on the movie house, which will feature 12 screens and stadium seating.

That $12 million project will go up on what is now a parking lot at Broad and Third streets and replace the Bijou Theater nearby, officials said.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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joshkotw said...

Honestly, I don't get the downtown renovations. We have office buildings sitting empty. We have condos sitting empty. Several lots have been remodeled and are sitting idle or going to waste. Parking is horrible (whether that is based on Republic pricing or the constant assault of homeless vagrants).

The Bijou already existed, why build a new theater? When did downtown get enough consumer traffic to beat out the Rave? Why did the Bijou not work?

I'm glad to see money being invested but I personally can't see the logic in these decisions.

FYI builders, nobody will attend your restaurants or theaters if we are getting stalked and harassed by the homeless panhandlers.

Build all you want but it doesn't fix the issues keeping people away.

January 21, 2009 at 12:09 p.m.
thelight said...

Come on you must live in the burbs. Being new to Chattanooga, but not TN, I like to hear more money being invested in the downtown area. As for parking I got an idea park your car somewhere other than right in front of the restaurant and walk or ride the free shuttle, heck maybe you could use some exercise. As for the investment in downtown I particularly like the thought of having a thriving downtown instead of having everything at Hamilton Place, aren't you tired of strip malls and malls? One of the best things about Chattanooga is the downtown area if we didn't have the thriving downtown then Chattanooga would be just like every other city with strip malls and people driving cars every where and no tourism dollars. I agree with the condos comment a little, because I have to question how many people can afford the $200+ condos (maybe baby boomers, but they are losing money in the market) when the median household income is $42,000, however I think you would be surprise that there is a major shift in America in wanting toliving closer to work/play areas, not every person has to participate in the sprawl effect of the past 20 years. Hey times they are a changing either get on the bus or move some where you are happy. I have to question people like you where do you live?

January 21, 2009 at 6:46 p.m.
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