The Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, a part of the Tennessee Aquarium plaza for 13 years, will be moving a block away later this year to the lobby floor of the Bijou Theatre building on Broad Street.
“We believe that having it at its new location with additional traffic will help people to get an idea of what there is to do in Chattanooga,” said Bob Doak, president of the CVB.
The bureau is on the second floor in the Riverplace building on the Tennessee Aquarium plaza. With its hop to the Bijou building expected in September, the CVB will halve its space from about 12,000 to 5,000 square feet. All staff except corporate offices — about a dozen people — will move to the new location.
“It’s smaller, but the space is so much better laid out that we’ll have a much more efficient operation,” Mr. Doak said. CVB has an agreement to lease the space for 18 months and Mr. Doak said the move to the Bijou will create “substantial” savings, allowing the bureau to “redirect money into advertising and marketing the city.”
However, the CVB’s corporate office won’t fit in the Bijou. Mr. Doak said its location has not been decided.
The Chattanooga History Center will move into the CVB’s current space with plans to use the entire area for its four “thematic installations” to tell the story of Chattanooga, according to officials with the center.
Contributed rendering of proposed Convention and Visitors Bureau's office.
The center was previously housed at Chestnut and Fourth streets and is temporarily operating out of a suite at 615 Lindsay St.
CARTA owns the Bijou space, but has asked RiverCity Co., the nonprofit downtown redevelopment group, to handle leasing for the transit system. The Bijou has 25,000 square feet and RiverCity continues to market the other 20,000.
RiverCity President Kim White said the move offers a new opportunity for the bureau due to its location.
“We’re excited because it really allows us to animate the space, and it’ll be great for the visitors bureau’s presence creating increased awareness for visitors and locals,” she said.
Tom Dugan, executive director of CARTA, echoed that sentiment.
“We think it’s a great use of the site because the shuttle ends there and gets tens of thousands of visitors through there every year. It’s also centered between the aquarium, the Imax Theater and a bunch of restaurants.”
Artech is the architectural design firm that will work on the project. Projected costs were not available.
“We’re recycling and redesigning the space into something vibrant again,” said Rick Thompson with Artech Design Group, who worked on the Bijou Theatre design.
CVB ON THE MOVE
* Moving from: Riverplace, on the Tennessee Aquarium plaza
* Moving to: Lobby, former Bijou Theatre
* When: September
* Amount of space: 5,000 square feet
CVB OVER THE YEARS
* 1939 — Study conducted to see if Tennessee Valley Authority and its projects could bring visitors to the area in the light of Chickamauga Dam set to be completed in 1940.
* 1940 — The Kiwanis Club and the Chamber of Commerce create an outfit called Chattanoogans Inc., the forerunner of the bureau.
* 1979 — The bureau lands at the Civic Forum bounded by 11th, 10th, Market and Broad streets after moving from Memorial Auditorium.
* 1980 — The CVB celebrates its 40th anniversary in ceremonies that included John Germ, Greater Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce president; Vernon Cox, president of the Kiwanis Club; and Arnold Chambers and Bob Elmore, chairman and president, respectively, of the bureau.
* 1997 — The bureau moves from the Civic Forum to Riverplace.
* 2010 — The bureau to relocate to the Bijou Theatre building.
Sources: Newspaper archives, CVB