published Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

$11.2 million sought for Allen Casey's downtown Chattanooga tract

A high-profile tract of downtown Chattanooga waterfront land put on the market related to businessman Allen Casey's bankruptcy cases could sell for one of the heftiest-ever prices per acre for a parcel in the central city.

"This is a substantial and valuable piece of property in downtown Chattanooga," said attorney Gary Patrick about the 6.6-acre tract that sits across the Tennessee River from Ross's Landing that's on the market for $11.2 million.

If sold for the asking price, that would put the land value at about $1.7 million per acre.

By comparison, an 11-acre site off Riverfront Parkway near the end of M.L. King Drive was recently bought by a Nashville developer for $6 million, or about $545,450 per acre.

David Fulton, an attorney for Casey company River City Resort, said there's already interest from potential buyers since the listing went up a few weeks ago.

He said there's not yet an offer on the vacant parcel, but a real estate broker expects one. The parcel makes up a little more than half of a Manufacturers Road site that Casey had hoped to develop.

Benjamin Pitts of Herman Walldorf Commercial, which has the site listed, said the parcel has had a lot of interest in general and the company has identified people who are more than just curious.

"There is interest by people I consider credible and reliable," he said about the land where a controversial run-down barge is moored.

Pitts said that because of the property's location and size, and an adjacent 5.3-acre vacant tract, he expects more than local interest.

Patrick, who represents several investors related to the site, said at a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing for River City Resort that the right sales price can alleviate a lot of financial problems related to Casey and his company.

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    Downtown Chattanooga property owned by Allen Casey

"It's important that we get as much as we can for the property," he said.

Bankruptcy Court Judge Shelley Rucker added that "the right sales price will make this a very easy case."

Fulton said he plans to file a motion related to finalizing the real estate broker for the property.

Casey, who developed the Chattanooga Choo Choo more than three decades ago, had hoped to put a hotel and condominiums on the land, but nothing was built. Also, Casey had brought in the barge from Pittsburgh with plans to build a New Orleans-style eatery and bar on it. The restaurant also was never built, and the barge became rundown and a point of criticism by community leaders.

Last month, River City Resort filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization as it faced a civil trial related to a lawsuit brought by Patrick and the investors against Casey and his company. Casey later filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

On Wednesday, Patrick said he wants to move a potential civil trial to Hamilton County Chancery Court. He noted that Chancellor Frank Brown is familiar with the pre-trial preparation of the case.

On Monday, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke released a letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordering Casey and his company to remove the barge within 60 days. However, the bankruptcy filings have clouded the structure's ownership and could make its removal more complicated.

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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