published Friday, September 21st, 2012

Developer eager to start Lookout Mountain town center

This rendering by architectural designer Garth Brown shows the town center proposed by developers Jimmy Chapin and Greg Voges. At front, left is a commercial building with a clock tower. Clockwise from it are city hall, a police and
fire station and another commercial building fronting Lula Lake Road. An amphitheater is built into the hill behind the city buildings.
This rendering by architectural designer Garth Brown shows the town center proposed by developers Jimmy Chapin and Greg Voges. At front, left is a commercial building with a clock tower. Clockwise from it are city hall, a police and fire station and another commercial building fronting Lula Lake Road. An amphitheater is built into the hill behind the city buildings.

Developer Jimmy Chapin wants to put his plan to build a new town center in Lookout Mountain, Ga., into high gear.

Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd at Thursday evening’s City Council meeting, Chapin outlined a tight timeline to build what he called a “world class” development.

Chapin and business partner Greg Voges want to pay the city $500,000 on Oct. 15 for City Hall and its land; knock the old, cement-block “eyesore” down shortly after the Nov. 6 presidential election; and have the city’s police and firefighters moved in to new buildings by Jan. 1, 2014.

“Hopefully, that’s all going to happen,” Chapin said, snapping his fingers for emphasis, “immediately.”

Chapin will lease the new, 1,500-square-foot City Hall and the 4,500-square-foot combination police and fire station to the city for $7,000 a month — or sell it at any time to the city for $1.5 million.

He assured city officials that wouldn’t be a burden, because he predicts that a grocery store, doctor’s office and other tenants would generate property taxes and $4 million in sales, which would produce $80,000 a year in income for the city.

“This is a home run for this city,” Chapin said.

Voges made it clear that the development would have room for Dr. Bill Moore Smith, who has the only physician’s practice on Lookout Mountain and has outgrown his leased space next to Fairyland Pharmacy.

“Is there room for a doctor’s office? Absolutely,” Voges said.

Chapin said the clock tower at the corner of a commercial building on Lula Lake Road was inspired by one at WaterColor, a beach resort and residential community near Destin, Fla., that’s won architectural awards.

“It also is signaling the entrance to the community,” Chapin said.

The amphitheater that would be built into the hill behind the city buildings, Chapin said, “is our pride and joy, this is the most important part of the site.”

He proposes to raise $300,000 in donations for the clock tower and amphitheater through sales of plaques with donors names on the pergolas, or shade structures. If donations fall short, Voges and Chapin said they’ll pay the difference.

“This community has so much community pride, it’s unbelievable,” Chapin said. “I guarantee I can raise $300,000.”

City Council will put Chapin’s proposal for a vote on its Oct. 4 meeting agenda.

Chapin’s brother, Garnet, has submitted a competing proposal but wasn’t at Thursday’s meeting.

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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