Staff Photo by Shane McMillan
Tourist Elizabeth Denison looks through dresses in the Ciao Belle boutique across from the Chattanooga Choo Choo on Friday. Owner of the shop Vibha Persad says she likes her new location for the variety of tourists and locals who pass through her boutique along Market Street.
From the rooftop of his Market Street building, Chattanooga attorney Morgan Adams can see the difference a few years makes.
Renovated condos and new businesses surround his 33,000-square foot building across from the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, and Mr. Adams said he is pleased with the role his renovated property has played in the area’s resurgence.
The former Nick’s Liquor Store building at 1419 Market St. now houses two retail spaces, with room for a third, a 7,000-square-foot law office and 18 apartments — all of which are currently occupied.
Through the renovation process, which took place over the past four years, Mr. Adams said he learned a great deal about old buildings.
“One of the contractors found in the cornerstone a handmade brick with the date 1811 in the corner, so I believe that was when the buildings were actually constructed,” he said. “It was also cool that I was given some hand-forged nails that were used in the construction.”
Mr. Adams bought the building in 2004 and at the time estimated to invest about $1.3 million renovating it. Now that it’s finished, he won’t say how much it cost, but that it was substantially more than he expected.
The renovations were completed in December 2007 and he started moving tenants in immediately. Now he rents the apartments for between $750 and $1,500 a month.
He and the city split the cost of adding a stoplight on Market Street that would allow for easier entrance and exit to the building’s parking lot.
The area surrounding the Adams Building has seen a resurgence in recent years, from the Clark Centre building at the corner of Main and Market to the triangle-shaped building soon to house a new brew pub, said Bob Doak, head of the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Mr. Adams certainly put a lot of money and a lot of work into this,” Mr. Doak said. “We appreciate him making an investment in our community that has helped to begin to redevelop that portion of our town.”
While many area buildings have been redeveloped, one spot on Market that continues to sit vacant is the former St. George Hotel. The building, directly across from the Choo Choo, has a multi-colored train painted on the walls facing Market Street.
Mr. Doak said the former hotel could be developed into a unique business, but for reasons unknown to him, it has remained vacant for years.
It is the one building in the area that has remained untouched through years of renovation and redevelopment in the area, Mr. Adams said. The Adams Building is next door to the former hotel.
Occupying his building now is the salon Alter Ego and Ciao Bella boutique, owned by Vihba “Vicky” Persad. Ms. Persad moved her business from Frazier Avenue to the new location on market over the summer. When she moved, Ms. Persad was able to downsize from 2,300 square feet and now has a 900-square-foot boutique that is much better suited to the kind of business she does, she said.
“This side of town is up-and-coming, so it was the right time,” she said.
One 1,700-square-foot retail space remains for lease, and Mr. Adams said he may turn it into a mock court room that attorneys around town could use for practice.
The building itself maintains some of the original character, with exposed brick walls and 15-foot ceilings. Mr. Adams was able to re-use the heart of pine rafters for the flooring throughout his law office.