Don’t Blink or You’ll Miss it – Development Update

The rate of development projects doesn’t seem to be slowing or even catching it’s breath. You could even make a pretty strong case that it’s accelerating. If there is a recession coming there is zero sense of any slowdown here.

In an attempt to keep a loose grip on what is happening here is a brief on the projects that have come out in the news recently:

Unum dumps excess space onto the downtown market:

On Thursday Oct 3rd the Times reported that Unum will be leasing out a “sizable amount of space” in their ‘Home Office West’ tower. They estimated the total at 168,100sf with 8,100sf of retail and the balance as office.

This is a substantial addition to the downtown market for office and may further push down the value of other office – at least those buildings that cannot be converted to another use – I’m looking at you 817 Broad St., ~24,000sf office building listed for $1.8m; vacant with no parking.

Nippon Paint and the Future of East Chatt:

Following on the heels of the announcement that the Nippon Paint company is in negotiations to build a 270,000sf manufacturing complex on the former Harriet Tubman site the city announced today that it is working to create a Tax Increment District around the site. This in theory should spur continued investment and development around the site further transforming East Chattanooga. This is a great idea and farsighted move especially seeing how the Opportunity Zone designation just skipped right over East Chatt.

Southside Change Gets Rolling:

The city’s major overhaul of the South Broad District is getting going with a bang thanks to the $1m plan to update West 26th Street between Market and Broad St. West 26th is and will be the major cross neighborhood connector for the South Broad area and will set a great precedent for future development while also drawing further attention and investment to the area. Provided the new ballpark plan ever gets rolling this entire area should see substantial changes.

Chestnut Flats Adds Affordable Apartments to Downtown:

The recently completed 199 unit apartment building at 1400 Chestnut was done as HUD affordable project limiting renters to those making less than 60% of the average median income (AMI). This is a great diversification to all of the high end apartment projects being done already and in planning. Affordable housing – actually having a range of housing – is a critical component of a thriving economy.

The comments from Mayor Burke are of particular interest in this article including the closing comments regarding downtown and growth:

“The downtown housing market is strong,” he said. “I have investors coming in to see me on a regular basis who say we need more apartments. Occupancy is still strong and prices are rising.”

This would seem to run in the face of multiple news bits over the past few months detailing numerous projects being half full. Time will tell who had their hand on the pulse. The future is very clear when you look back at it.

Bullish on Chattanooga:

The buyer of the 1301 Riverfront Building has also set sights on rehabilitating the Lupton Building downtown. Taking advantage of the Opportunity Zone designation to convert what has been the self storage and vacant office building into a hostel, creative office space and retail.

“I think Chattanooga is a fantastic market and we’d love to be up there more” – Dave Cordera, founder of Atlanta’s Greenleaf Partners.

Here is someone with the long view to do good work in the city. He notes that his is a family company and that they are long term holders. There are exactly the type of stakeholder that downtown will benefit from. People with a long and thoughtful view and a sense of the potential. Looking forward to see what else they jump into.

Highland Park Project Proposed for Lucey Boiler Site:

The changes and projects in the Highland Park neighborhood continue at a breakneck pace with the proposed redevelopment of the Lucey Boiler site, in the 900 block of Holtzclaw. On first review this looks like another good project that will continue the updating and rebuilding of one of Chattanooga’s historic neighborhoods. We shall see what comes out in the wash and how the market receives it but I think this is a great little project. More like this will continue to spur change and interest in upgrading and remaking Highland Park.

More Northshore Condos….:

Having recently broken ground on the 26 unit ‘The Fairpoint’ condo project on Fairpoint St in Northshore, the Fletcher Bright Co recently submitted plans to replace the decades old Nikki’s Restaurant on Cherokee with another 52 unit project. Initial drawings look about like everything else that’s been built. Uninspiring. This project has been rumored to be in the works for quite a while but the location is still a bit fringe. While the views of downtown likely will be picture worthy the proximity to traffic on Cherokee and Hwy 27 will create a base level of noise that unless mitigated will have a substantial detriment to the quality of life. I doubt very much you’ll find people lounging on their decks. Regardless this is another vote for the value of the Northshore. Clearly there is appeal and demand to live in the area.

More South Broad Project News:

Continuing the sweeping changes happening in the South Broad neighborhood Knoxville’s Neyland Apartment Associates is proposing a huge project that will add upwards of 300 apartments; 76 townhomes and substantial retail space along South Broad. Add this to the new Publix on Broad; the redevelopment of downtown St Elmo; and the new neighborhood already built on North St Elmo Ave and you have the makings of monumental change. Much like the area just to the North across Chattanooga Creek, this entire neighborhood should be bracing for the kind of change that happens only once in a hundred years. I am hopeful that Neyland will apply thoughtful design principles and build something unique and interesting. Though I am not holding my breath.