published Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Resort on the river: work is under way on Chattanooga's Cameron Harbor

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    Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press Buck Schimpf, developer, describes the position of a retaining wall and the river walk at the Cameron Harbor construction site Monday morning. Schimpf and Hiren Desai, hotel developer, checked on the progress of construction at the site Monday. The site is the biggest downtown Chattanooga mixed development in the last three years.

Chattanooga developer Eugene "Buck" Schimpf calls Cameron Harbor, one of downtown's largest-ever developments, an extension of the city's $120 million 21st Century Waterfront Project.

"We're creating almost a resort on the river in the middle of downtown," he said about the mixed-use development that is itself valued at about $80 million.

Work is under way on the first phase of Cameron Harbor, which sits off Riverfront Parkway just west of the Waterfront Project and Ross's Landing.

Sixteen upscale waterfront townhouses, a Spring Hill Suites by Marriott hotel, a restaurant and boat docks are planned in the first phase of work, Schimpf said. A 25-unit condominium project is slated for phase two in a few years, he said.

Hiren Desai, chief executive of Chattanooga-based hotel developer 3H Group, said the $15 million hotel will be the first built on the city's downtown waterfront overlooking the Tennessee River.

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    Cameron Harbor Mixed-use development located on a nine-acre tract on the former Jones-Blair Co. property off Riverfront Parkway near Cameron Hill.

"There's a need for having a hotel on the river," he said about the five-story, 116-unit structure that's expected to be ready by early 2012.

The 21st Century Waterfront Project, pushed last decade by then-mayor and now U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, was credited as helping finish what the Tennessee Aquarium started 19 years ago at Ross's Landing.

The Waterfront Project created a more parklike sense of place along the river with ribbons of grass, amphitheater seating, boat docks and a water monument to the Cherokee Indians.

Cameron Harbor sits next door on a 9-acre tract that redevelops a large swath of formerly industrial buildings that 25 years ago occupied much of downtown's waterfront. The project site reuses a parcel that for many years held a portion of Jones-Blair Paint Co.'s manufacturing operations.

townhouses first

Either four or eight townhouses will go up initially, depending on demand, said Schimpf.

"We're working on six contracts," he said.

The townhouses will range in price from $900,000 to $1.7 million, while stretching in size from 2,500 square feet to 4,200 square feet, said Schimpf.

"It's going to be high-end," said the businessman, who years ago helped spur downtown's housing boom with the redevelopment of the Lovemans building on Market Street into condos.

PROJECT TIMELINE

* 2006 - WinPar Hospitality LLC of Orlando buys part of the former Jones-Blair Paint Co. property off Riverfront Parkway and proposes large mixed-use development. But WinPar files Chapter 7 bankruptcy before work begins.

* December 2007 - A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge orders that Chattanooga developer Eugene "Buck" Schimpf or his nominee could be conveyed WinPar's interest in the site.

* January 2008 - Schimpf announces plans for townhouses, a hotel, condominiums and boat docks on the downtown waterfront site.

* February 2011 - Work under way on first phase of $80 million project.

Real estate often leads the economy out of recession, he said. This time, that may occur from the top end of the market down, Schimpf said.

"We're seeing extremely qualified purchasers," he said.

Darlene Brown, co-owner of Real Estate Partners in the city, said there have been several million-dollar real estate closings recently.

She said she was heartened by interest in Cameron Harbor at the city's boat show held late last month where the developer set up a booth.

"There were lots of questions about the floor plans," Brown said.

Desai said the hotel will offer 3,000 square feet of meeting space as well as waterfront views.

"The future of downtown is great," he said about why he's moving ahead with the hotel.

Meanwhile, the city plans to expand its nearby marina by up to 54 boat slips. Plans also are to extend the Riverwalk from Ross's Landing through Cameron Harbor, adding another amenity to the project, officials said.

Adelia Mosley, Real Estate Partners marketing director, said the Cameron Harbor site and the hotel will be "a great place for a wedding or parties."

Schimpf said he hasn't settled on a restaurant yet. He's looking for the right operator first.

"He'll know what kind of restaurant should be there," Schimpf said.

Kuebler Builders is doing the site work, while River Street Architecture designed the project, he said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

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 ...

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cannonball said...

Another great place for the homeless to hang out.

February 13, 2011 at 8:29 a.m.
HannaBeckman said...

Yes cannonball you are correct. This project will never get finished anyhow. 2 years from now bring back this post and see I am 100% right on. will sell a few townhouses, then the rest will rot as it stands, because this character will run out of money., and then the townhouse buyers who got suckered into this will sue, blah! blah! blah!

February 13, 2011 at 7:24 p.m.
jpo3136 said...

Insane condo prices will doom this scheme to failure.

That same kind of problem has already plagued several similar developments downtown. No one can afford to live in these buildings because the people who are building them plan to sell to rich people who don't exist here.

We need to create setback and height restrictions so that these developers don't continue to hog every angle of view of the river. The last so many buildings which have gone up block the view of the water so much it'd take a skyscraper to see past them. Poor planning for the community leads to visual pollution. No one wants to see the backside of your condo-scraper.

Who can afford to live in these condos? So many remain empty as it is. Quite a few of these occupants seem to be Atlanta rich elite who are looking for a second crash pad for vacations. That doesn't benefit our community. We need accessible housing that's within the budget of our community's average worker.

Make some realistic plans, please. As it is, the most populous area with the most reasonably affordable housing, actually used by people, with riverfront exposure is --wait for it-- Suck Creek.

Not since TVA sold lakeside lots, back when, have we seen anyone make any serious efforts to allocate affordable riverside housing. Guess who pays rent, and guess how much they can afford per month? Here's a hint: they're all living in the County already, and they cannot afford these insane condo prices.

They're our own people who are willing to pay what they do now, but would risk a change and finance a move if the digs looked like they might be a better chance.

Try that. It'll actually sell. To our people.

February 14, 2011 at 6:18 p.m.
rjanmozkie said...

This has been around for months ago but I just want to check out the development for such establishment. I saw this article http://www.timesfreepress.co.chattanoogan.com/2014/5/22/277093/Work-Gets-Underway-On-Craftsman-Homes.aspx and seems the units are huge enough to accomodate average families. on the other hand, the place has comprehensive amenities such as parking slots. I've been in singapore and have seen the potential of Cameron harboon as the next royal wharf http://www.idealproperty.com.sg/royal-wharf/.

November 24, 2014 at 12:25 a.m.
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