Eatery and grocery eyed for Southside Chattanooga

Eatery and grocery eyed for Southside Chattanooga

April 6th, 2012 by Carey O'Neil in Business Around the Region

Craftworks Restaurants & Breweries moved its 100-plus-employee headquarters to Main Street this past Monday.

This coming Monday, city planners will discuss whether to rezone a spot down the street for a restaurant.

And local developers are hopeful they'll open a full-service grocery store near the corner of Main and Market streets by the end of the year.

"The downtown is growing, and this is a natural progression for it," said Ken Hayes, whose development company owns Craftworks' building. "You have a lot of folks who now live, work and play in the Main Street, Southside area. With more attention on that area, it will only help more things happen."

The area already caught the attention of Tommy Austin, the developer behind the proposed restaurant or commercial project on the corner of Main and Williams streets. Austin owns a few properties on the Southside, including the land where popular burger restaurant Urban Stack sits. He hopes to find a restaurateur to fill his Main Street site by the end of May.

"If all the things that are set to happen in that immediate area do happen, I think it'll be arguable that the gravitational center of the Southside will be Williams and Main," he said.

The Main Street area caught several developers' eyes as artists' galleries started popping up, followed by artisan eateries such as Niedlov's Breadworks and The Terminal in 2009.

John Fellers decided to move off Signal Mountain at about the same time restaurants came in. He soon renovated a Williams Street building for him and his family.

"I liked the idea. It seemed like an up and coming art/restaurant district," he said. "I see it as a legitimate urban neighborhood that's going to continue to develop. I'd say we're about 50 percent there."

Eric Cummings, a developer with Paper Street Associates, hopes to be part of that development. He plans eventually to build a full-service grocery, cafe and attached wine shop and a four-story apartment and retail building on Main Street.

Cummings started plans in 2009 to build the grocery, but those plans were delayed by the economic downturn.

"People really, really want to be down on Main Street," he said. "It's become less of an area of just destinations. What we're looking for is having the district be a destination."