Downtown Chattanooga draws dedicated art business space

Downtown Chattanooga draws dedicated art business space

September 1st, 2012 by Ellis Smith and Carey O'Neil in Business Around the Region

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Photo by Allison Kwesell


Developers plan to open studios for professionals and artists by the end of November. For more information, visit or call 423-822-5095.

Developer Chris Thomas wants to get Chattanooga's artists out of their garages, basements and spare rooms and into studios.

He plans to open Chattanooga WorkSpace, a building with between 30 and 36 studios. The 400-square-foot studios are targeted at creative types, giving them a professional place to work and meet with clients.

"It's a gap between the coffeeshop or spare bedroom and having your own private office," Thomas said. "You don't want a client to come over to your spare bedroom. You want them to have an impression that they're coming over to an established business."

WorkSpace will fill the former St. Barnabas senior center on Sixth Street across from the YMCA. Renovations are going on alongside an upgrade to the former St. Barnabas apartments next door. Those apartments are slated to open in October and target young professionals.

"Together, we have this cool live-work-play corner going on," Thomas said.

He expects to complete the renovations, which will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, by the end of November.

Thomas already has drawn plenty of interest for the $1-per-square-foot-a-month sites. Within two days of launching, enough people signed up on his wait list to fill one of the three dedicated studio floors.

The four-story building's ground floor will be a co-working space that Thomas said could accommodate between 50 and 100 businesses.

"We'll have an art lounge, so it becomes more than just a place to work - sort of a creative, social, as well as professional, work environment," he said. "We're trying to keep those creative juices flowing."

Thomas will lease the space from the group that owns the former St. Barnabas site. He said there has been a need for studios like WorkSpace for a long time. He signed a multi-decade lease with the owners earlier this week, and is happy with the site.

"I've found a lot of other buildings we could do this in, but none have such a great location, easy access and are part of the community," he said. "I'm really excited about this project."