published Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Lookout Mountain buys City Hall’s front lawn

WHAT’S NEXT


The Lookout Mountain City Council is holding a public forum for comments on the new town center plan at 5:30 p.m. May 3 in City Hall.

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. — The city recently spent $270,000 to buy City Hall’s front lawn.

The City Council’s next step comes May 3 during a meeting for public input on how to pay for $1.2 million worth of proposed new buildings to replace the aging, concrete-block City Hall at 1214 Lula Lake Road.

A property tax increase is under consideration.

Those are the latest developments in the city’s efforts to create a new town center featuring a mix of city buildings, office and retail space.

Council members breathed sighs of relief at their meeting Thursday night after they finally took ownership of the 0.7-acre parcel in front of City Hall. It formerly was owned by Scott Maclellan, a descendant of the founder of what’s now Chattanooga-based Unum.

Charter Real Estate Corp. bought the parcel as the city’s trustee for $270,000 on March 29, according to City Council meeting minutes and information from the Walker County clerk’s office.

The city plans to demolish its current City Hall and build an administration building and a public safety building farther back from the road. They will stand next to the current public works building, which will be repurposed into a fire station with its four parking bays holding firefighting vehicles.

The three new rock-faced city buildings will take design cues from Lookout Mountain landmarks Rock City and the Fairyland Club. Chattanooga architect Michael McGowan of River Street Architecture has created renderings of the proposed town center.

Mayor Bill Glascock said Thursday night he’d get three bids on financing the proposed city buildings in time for the May 3 meeting. He’s previously said the city would have to raise taxes to service the $1.2 million debt.

On the newly purchased front lawn, the city proposes to sell just enough land for the footprint of a 3,000-square-foot doctor’s office and a 2,000-square-foot retail space, Glascock said. The buildings would be on the right side of City Hall’s current parking lot as viewed from the street.

Dr. Bill Moore Smith currently has an office around the corner from City Hall, but he may move into the new town center.

Erlanger Health System currently pays the lease for Smith’s offices on Lookout and Signal mountains. Mike Baker, Erlanger Health System’s senior director of facilities support, said in a statement, “Erlanger is currently under discussions with a developer regarding the possible relocation of Dr. Bill Moore Smith’s Lookout Mountain office. However, any final proposal would be presented to Erlanger’s board of trustees for their evaluation and approval.”

Smith could not be reached for comment Thursday or Friday.

Charter Real Estate hopes to build the new doctor’s office.

“We’re excited about it,” said Charter President David Devaney. He added, “We’ve still got some pieces of the project that have to fall in place.”

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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