A Florida builder is converting the Southern Railway Building, an 86-year-old railroad building-turned-apartment complex in downtown Chattanooga, into modern condos.
“I enjoy working on historical buildings,” said John O’Donnell of Mainstream Development Group. “We’re able to keep the historical aspect intact, yet upgrade the building to today’s standards of living.”
The Southern Railway Building was constructed in 1922, used as railway offices and later was sold to the city of Chattanooga, according to newspaper archives. Mainstream bought the building in 2001 for $300,000 and turned the second and third floors into apartments. Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise Inc. occupies a portion of the ground floor.
Mr. O’Donnell said he converted the apartments into condos to exit the rental business and take advantage of the real estate market. He said sales have been slow but picked up lately.
Rayburn Traughber, president of the Chattanooga Community Housing Development Organization and former executive director of CNE, said the building revamp was one of the earlier downtown housing projects.
“I had the opportunity to meet some of the tenants (renters). It seemed to be a building that was occupied by a number of professionals,” he said.
The entire first floor is for sale for $1.8 million and the buyer would have CNE as a tenant in part of the space, said listing agent Tonjia Landreth, a broker with Innovative Realty Group.
Or, the portion that CNE is not leasing may be leased for $16 to $17 per square foot, she said, depending on whether the tenant builds out the space. CNE previously leased the entire first floor, she said, but is working with an architect to renovate a portion of the first floor, which will be its new, smaller home. CNE this year signed a five-year lease, she said.
Eight of 22 residential condos have been sold, and one unit is under contract, Ms. Landreth said. The condo floor plans are one bedroom with one bathroom, or two bedrooms with one bathroom. The condos have concrete floors, and several units have been upgraded with granite countertops, new cabinets and light fixtures and new shelving in the closets, she said. Prices are $144,900 to $203,500.
One-bedroom units have one assigned parking space, while two-bedroom units have two assigned spaces. Parking is in a gated, remote-access lot across Market Street, she said. The $175 monthly condo fee includes the monthly parking fee as well as building maintenance, she said.
“It’s conveniently located to downtown attractions, and the prices are affordable for downtown housing,” Ms. Landreth said.
The Orlando builder said the Market Street building is one of eight historical buildings his company has renovated. The Southern Railway Building is at 1301 Market St., next to Market Street Tire & Auto Center.
Mr. O’Donnell said he also renovated the former St. Elmo Elementary School, which was turned into low- to moderate-income housing for seniors, and built eight duplexes next to the school. The original school building was constructed in 1906, while a second building was added in 1915, according to newspaper archives.