This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.
An Atlanta developer is building a $4 million self-storage facility on Broad Street in Chattanooga's Southside.
NitNeil Partners, a regional investment firm that owns 14 self-storage facilities and 155 multifamily units, is breaking into the Tennessee market with the project at 1380 Broad Street.
The three-story building will include about 600 units -- that's more than 57,500 square feet of climate-controlled storage space -- as well as a leasing office. Construction is slated to finish in spring 2014.
The project doesn't look like a typical storage facility, said NitNeil principal Nitesh Sapra, and that's intentional.
"Self-storage has typically had a negative perspective to it because of how poorly designed it's been, but what has happened is that new developments look more like office buildings instead of traditional storage buildings," he said. "And that's the cloth we're cut from. We're focused on improving neighborhoods by filling a need, and from an architectural perspective, doing things that honor the architectural character of the neighborhood."
But Southside Cowart Neighborhood Association president and architect Heidi Hefferlin said she's not happy about the project or the design.
"We would have preferred a building that relates to the architecture of the community and creates jobs," she said. "Storage is important, but it shouldn't be on main commercial streets in a Southside arts and residential district."
She'd rather see offices, a restaurant or a mixed use building on the lot.
"Typically storage buildings have no windows, don't relate to the street and don't bring the kind of activity that we like in our neighborhood, like shops and residences and things that are conducive to building a neighborhood," she said.
The facility will face Broad Street but will also have access along Cowart Street. With storage units ranging from 3 by 5 feet up to 10 by 30 feet, Sapra hopes to appeal to a large market. He'll specifically target downtown city dwellers and firms in the central business district.
"We feel the area is extremely underserved as it relates to a quality, safe and clean self-storage," he said. "There is really nothing downtown."
The development is going up right next door to the new Southern Surgical Arts building, which is also a three-story building on track to open in spring 2014. Together, the two buildings will fill in what's been a vacant spot on Broad Street. Carey Nease, President & CEO of Southern Surgical Arts said he was pleasantly surprised by his new neighbor's design.
"It's actually a very attractive building that will be nice for the area and continue to improve the look on the Southside," her said. "I'm hoping what we're doing will stimulate more interest in that area around the Broad and Main intersection. It's been in need of a facelift for a long time and I hope this is catalyst for that."
Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at email@example.com or 423-757-6525.