Ooltewah residents will see the beginnings of their new town center by early fall, say officials who are spearheading the $100 million project.
A fully-landscaped square with an elevated stage will mark the first completed promise by The Lupton Co., which is driving the Cambridge Square development on Lee highway.
Following a summer of dirt-moving and utility work, workers are now preparing to construct two 10,000-square-foot buildings at a cost of about $1.4 million within the next 45 days, according to city building permits.
"It'll kind of all be going on at the same time," said David Belitz, chief financial officer of The Lupton Co.
Southern Burger Co., and Lupi's Pizza will move into the new buildings in the first quarter of 2013, and more announcements are coming soon, officials said.
Cambridge Square sits on land originally intended as a buffer zone for The Honors golf course. The land will now include a number of restaurants, offices and retailers.
Once the commercial venture picks up speed, developers will pursue a massive residential project in subsequent phases, on land located behind the current undertaking.
"We're going to look at starting the first phase of residential toward the end of 2013, but that's a very soft date," Belitz said.
Belitz sees the suburban development as an extension of the late Coca-Cola magnate Jack Lupton's penchant for urban renewal.
"We were large participatants in the revitalization of downtown Chattanooga, and as we look at Ooltewah there is an opportunity here to create a Town Center, a gathering place," Belitz said.
Jim Cheney, a spokesman for Cambridge Square, said he has tentatively secured letters of intent from a 10,000-square-foot corporate headquarters, and about 10 other potential tenants.
When completed, the commercial side of the project could stretch to 300,000 square feet of retail, commercial and restaurant space, Cheney said.
"We want to catch the people who want to eat out but don't want to go to Hamilton Place mall or downtown Chattanooga," he said.
Cheney wants more than a suburban strip mall. He wants a destination.
Developers are being careful about which tenants they recruit, he said, and are trying to focus for now on local retailers.
"We have a lot of people looking for second locations," Cheney said. "They want to capture downtown's crowd, and they see the potential for Ooltewah to become a bit more cosmopolitan."