We Can Do Better

Please stop building this garbage:

Proposed Foundry Flats Apartment Building

I’m not even sure where to start. It’s an office building. It’s literally the cheapest thing you an build. It is utterly devoid of any aesthetic value. It looks like a prison. Really? You think people will want to live here? Are you high? Who let this crap get through.

The Edge Apartments at 422 Vine St

For ‘The Edge’ apartment building they added some paint and variable skin to this but it’s still about as interesting as a block of concrete. This is an utter waste and creates an awful experience for the entire area. Walking by these huge blank faces is cold and repulsive. Not even awnings. Absolutely no street value.

Yes there are constraints and restrictions and requirements. Just like every other city on the planet. So, why exactly is this worthless garbage being built? I would venture that it’s what happens when apartments are built to a ‘bottom line’ on a proforma rather than being built to perform for the residents and the city. With the market for apartment buildings being so overblown nationally these will endure for quite a while with little to no further investment. Meaning we will be looking at these blank, featureless prison faces for the next twenty or more years.

Here are a couple examples of apartments that could have been built instead of this cheap crap:

None of these are difficult from a building standpoint and they bring the entire area around them up in aesthetic value. They’re additive.

Enough with the ‘bottom line building’. With 6000 + units being built in the last five years it’s time for Chattanooga to lead the charge and push projects of actual civic value. We have beds now we need vision.

Unique buildings have always commanded a premium. So the money excuse is a weak one. So, who is going to step up and actually give us something to be proud of. Something the rest of the country will see and say ‘WOW!’ Look at what they’re doing in Chattanooga. Something that will add value to the city rather than just using our infrastructure to enrich the owners.

Stop building crap.

North Shore Condos on Frazier

12 – 14 Frazier Ave

If you’ve walked down Frazier in the last couple years you’ve likely seen the shell of the building just of Market next to Locals Only and wondered what they’re going to do with it. Well, the rumors were right and it’s going to be retail and condos.

The Times is reporting that the units will be priced from under $500,000 to $1,200,000 and that parking has yet to be sorted out but will not be garaged. Provided they can sell all the units the developer should do alright as they bought the property in 2014 for ~$1,030,000. Add in five years of carrying costs and that’ll take a bite out of profits.


The North Shore is certainly doing a nice job of producing smaller projects. Projects of a scale that seem to fit more in the area. At least at the moment. I am aware of at least three projects in the rumor or planning phase that are looking to have more than 150 units each but they’re all at least a year or two away.

The smaller, boutique, projects can provide an excellent counterpoint to the larger ones and in my experience tend to draw higher prices and a sense of exclusivity, provided they’re done well.

More Apartments & Retail Downtown

The project at 3rd and Walnut downtown that will transform one of Unum’s underutilized parking lots into 151 apartments, 12 townhomes and a pile of retail space has begun. It’s expected to start leasing by the fall of next year. Even on the heels of ~6,000 new units downtown having been brought to market in the last four years and multiple projects reporting less than 75% occupancy the SC developer breaking ground noted “We think there is a lot of pent up demand for apartments downtown.”

I’d sure love to have a look at the tea leaves they’re reading.

From an urban infill standpoint however, this project will help substantially to fill in a major gap in the downtown experience. When walking off the South side of the bridge down Walnut St you have one block and then you are left stranded in a huge sea of parking lots with little of interest to invite people further or connect them to the rest of downtown.

Provided these guys hustle to fill the retail and are able to enliven this stretch the project will be a strong addition to the downtown experience.

We shall see how the lease up goes. I certainly hope they’re seeing the right indicators as we have plenty of vacant retail space already.


The project is garnering National press as well:


More and More…and More

This project has been in the works for a long while so it’s timing on coming to market with so much other product is just the luck of the draw.

It’s not clear what their original purchase price was for the old Cannon Equipment site but given the requisite brownfield cleanup I would suspect it was good. That should allow them to weather the current saturated market.


It’s worth revisiting the estimate noted at the ULI conference last fall that “it could easily take five years to reach anything close to full lease-up.” That means every other project that comes to market extends that time frame. Short of an unprecedented demographic influx of renters to downtown there’s going to be room to grow for a while.

If there is a silver lining here it’s that anyone coming into the market will need to provide a better price point or more unique product because more of the same isn’t going to cut it. So, hopefully, in a couple years maybe we will see some really interesting and creative residential solutions. https://weburbanist.com/2013/09/04/zaha-hadids-apartment-block-overlooking-nyc-high-line/