published Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Lookout Mountain eyeing town center

An architect's conceptual drawing shows two L-shaped buildings on Lula Lake Road that could house commercial and office space, such as a grocery store, outdoor café and doctor's office in Lookout Mountain, Ga. An amphitheater would be built into the hillside in front of a large city building at the back of the parcel where the 10-unit Mountain Crest apartment complex now stands.
An architect's conceptual drawing shows two L-shaped buildings on Lula Lake Road that could house commercial and office space, such as a grocery store, outdoor café and doctor's office in Lookout Mountain, Ga. An amphitheater would be built into the hillside in front of a large city building at the back of the parcel where the 10-unit Mountain Crest apartment complex now stands.

IF YOU GO

What: Lookout Mountain, Ga., City Council meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Today

Where: City Hall, 1214 Lula Lake Road

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. -- At a meeting tonight, the City Council is planning to seek requests for proposals to create a new town center where the aging city hall now stands -- including one that's twice the size of a previous proposal.

The vote would formalize a process that began with a plan by city officials and architect Michael McGowan that called for demolishing city hall, putting the fire station, a new city hall and police station toward the back of the lot and adding two buildings for retail and office use on what's now city hall's front lawn.

But two days ago at the city planning commission meeting, developer Jimmy Chapin, architect Garth Brown and Greg Voges, who owns property next to city hall, shared a town center concept twice that size.

"Our vision is much bigger," said Chapin, who previously developed Cummings Cove, a resort-style residential community in Lookout Valley.

The trio unveiled a plan that calls for developing two commercial buildings and one civic building totaling 31,500 square feet around the Shell gas station, the Fairyland Pharmacy and Dr. Bill Smith's office, all of which are near city hall.

It would roughly double the footprint of what the city initially envisioned because it would include 1.3 acres that the Voges family owns behind the 1.67-acre city hall site. The centerpiece would be an amphitheater built into the hill behind city hall.

Chapin said the Mountain Market would like to move in to his proposed development. The grocery store had been a fixture at 1222 Lula Lake Road but burned in August 2007. It reopened in 2008 at 124 North Wautauga Lane on the Tennessee side of Lookout Mountain.

"They have shown incredible interest," Chapin told the planning commission.

The trio's plans call for knocking down the 10-unit Mountain Crest Apartments on the Voges' property and replacing it with a 15,000-square-foot city building that would house city administration, police and fire.

"We will make housing arrangements for those people living there now," said Voges, adding that his family could build a new apartment complex on property they own nearby.

Another developer, David DeVaney of Charter Real Estate Corp., said Wednesday that Smith -- the two are working together -- could move into a larger, new office at either of the two town center plans proposed thus far.

"I think there's definitely room for a medical office building," DeVaney said. "I'm glad the city's looking at all options before they pull the trigger on anything."

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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