published Friday, February 26th, 2010

RiverCity wants UTC tie with downtown

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Kim White

RiverCity Co. President Kim White, a UTC graduate, said Thursday that she wants to paint the town blue and gold -- UTC's colors -- to attract more students into downtown shops and restaurants.

"We are a college town and we need to look like it," Mrs. White told the Chattanooga Rotary Club. "We have more than 10,000 students up the hill at UTC and just think what an economic impact they will make if we get them eating, shopping and spending downtown."

Engaging UTC in the life of downtown is part of a new strategy that Ms. White outlined to help continue the revival of Chattanooga's downtown.

To bridge the "town and gown" gap, Mrs. White said RiverCity wants to explore ways to acquaint more UTC freshmen with what is available next to their campus.

After shedding jobs and businesses a generation ago, Chattanooga is one of only three metro areas in the United States to reverse those losses in the urban core over the past decade, according to the Brookings Institute.

KEYS TO GROWTH

* Promote more retail through the return of a downtown merchants association

* Make downtown more of a college town for UTC students

* Recruit more businesses to fill downtown offices

* Encourage more people to live downtown

Source: RiverCity Co.

RiverCity Chairman Charles Arant credits the company for helping that revival by assembling land, recruiting businesses and, in some instances, undertaking developments such as Riverset Apartments and the 12-screen Majestic Theater complex.

"We've built a wonderful downtown but, as we move forward, we need to look at new partnerships and new approaches," said Mr. Arant, who's also president of the Tennessee Aquarium.

Mrs. White, the chairman-elect for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said RiverCity will work more in partnership with the chamber and other agencies to recruit businesses and promote downtown retailing and living.

The company also will begin to seek business support for its efforts, including the creation of a downtown merchants association, she said.

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