published Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Developer pushes for town center on Lookout Mountain

Developer Jimmy Chapin isn't short on enthusiasm about his plans to build a new "town center" in Lookout Mountain, Ga.

"This will revitalize the entire mountain," Chapin said Wednesday morning during a sit-down with Mayor Bill Glascock. "It's really going to be cool."

Chapin proposes creating a commercial development on the site of the aging City Hall at 1214 Lula Lake Road. Anchored by a grocery store, it would include an "iconic" clock tower and a public amphitheater and could be home to a new police, fire and City Hall building.

Those are some of the things Chapin, architect Garth Brown and Greg Voges, who owns property next to City Hall, discussed during a conference with the mayor that was open to the public.

The sit-down was held as a preview to a Sept. 17 deadline to submit requests for proposals to the city to develop the town center. Thus far, Chapin, Voges and Brown have demonstrated the only private interest.

The city was considering spending $1.2 million to build a new town hall, police station and refurbished fire station where the old City Hall stands, which would have required a property tax increase. To assemble the site, the city spent $270,000 in reserves to buy the City Hall's 0.7-acre front lawn from Scott Maclellan.

But an outcry against higher taxes put the city's construction plans on hold.

If Chapin develops the site, he could lease or sell a building to the city to house the police, fire and the town hall.

Chapin first introduced his proposal in May and had a drawing showing two commercial buildings and a civic building totaling 31,500 square feet. At Glascock's suggestion, Chapin agree to meet with the city planning commission to come up with new conceptual drawings before the Sept. 17 deadline.

Chapin plans to seek donations to raise $300,000 to build the amphitheater and clock tower.

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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