Warehouse Row officials have started work on what could be one of the biggest makeovers in Chattanooga’s central business district in years if it unfolds as planned.
“This could end up a $30 million to $33 million investment,” said Denis Pellerin of Pellerin & Salomon, a real estate services company that’s managing the work.
Workmen have started remodeling areas on the top floors on the south end of the Market and Houston streets office and retail center. New paint, carpet, wall coverings and restroom work is under way, said Mr. Pellerin.
The food court area will get similar treatment in a few weeks, he said.
Staff File Photo-- The owners of Warehouse Row have begun the work of remaking the 20-year-old retail and office center.
However, even more public is that the green outside awnings will be replaced on the first floor and signal a drastic redesign that will turn store orientation toward the street, Mr. Pellerin said.
New storefronts facing Market and Lindsay streets will make Warehouse Row more pedestrian friendly, he said.
“It will allow individual tenants to personalize their storefronts so it doesn’t look like one mega-complex,” Mr. Pellerin said.
David Unruh, project director for the nonprofit downtown redevelopment group RiverCity Co., said offering a better street presence makes sense.
“It was pretty pedestrian unfriendly,” Mr. Unruh said about the 20-year-old facility that was first redeveloped as an outlet store mall and offices.
Mr. Pellerin said negotiations are under way with the city to place on-street parking along Market in front of the center. That’s one of several steps to create more patron parking in the area, he said.
“Traffic flow there is not that heavy,” he said.
One of the biggest potential changes discussed — adding a hotel — is still under consideration.
“It’s a good market for a boutique hotel,” Mr. Pellerin said of the city. He said a hotel could feature 140 to 180 rooms.
A hotel would go in the north end of Warehouse Row and likely would cost from $10 million to $13 million, Mr. Pellerin said.
“The biggest question is the economy,” he said.
If the plans proceed, the facility’s existing breezeway separating north and south buildings could be reconfigured to handle auto traffic, Mr. Pellerin said.
Jamestown Properties, an Atlanta-based real estate investment firm, bought Warehouse Row in 2006 after retailers began leaving the center in droves.
“It needs a new orientation,” Mr. Pellerin said. “It’s terribly underutilized. The owners are totally committed.”
He said more parking and accessibility are keys to repositioning the facility, which also could include a new restaurant.
Mr. Pellerin said additional work will involve replacing the 20-year-old heating and air-conditioning systems, a $3 million project.
The center’s brick buildings date back to the early 1900s and were the site of a series of railroad warehouses. The outlet store concept had success until the opening of outlet centers on Interstate 75 in the region siphoned off traffic at Warehouse Row.
WAREHOUSE ROW REMAKE
Existing or soon-to-come work:
* New outside awnings
* Updated paint, wallcoverings, carpet, restrooms to South Tower on floors 3, 4 and 5
* New paint, lighting, tables, chairs to South Tower Food Court and atrium
* 140- to 180-room hotel
* More parking
Source: Pellerin & Salomon
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 ...