Warehouse Row is a group of brick buildings dating back to 1900. The brick structures had serviced the railroads in their day. In 1989, the old buildings were re-purposed into an outlet concept.
The owner of Warehouse Row plans to push its investment into the office and retail center past the $30 million mark next year, making the refurbishing one of the largest ever of a downtown Chattanooga site.
George Krauth, a vice president for Atlanta-based Jamestown Properties, expects the firm to plow "several million dollars" more into the Market Street facility in 2014 as it upgrades the site's common areas and parking garage.
"There will be more amenities added inside and out," he said.
Krauth said Warehouse Row's 330,000-square-feet of space is more than 80 percent leased and plans are to woo more retailers in 2014. Some existing stores already have expanded hours due to heightened traffic. Kayce Hughes, Ellie's Fine Lingerie and The Cosmetic Market are now open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Jamestown, which bought Warehouse Row in 2006, essentially turned the retail portion of the center inside out by breaking out parts of walls and installing new store entrances from the exterior. In addition, the company upgraded its office space.
"We've got some of the hottest office addresses," he said, citing the addition of the corporate headquarters for Propex and Access America.
Jamestown is wrapping up a six-month round of improvements, including having local artisans hand paint signs on the buildings to resemble lettering of a century ago, Krauth said.
"We did research and reintroduced those on the property with a more modern message," he said.
Also, the company improved streetscaping, recently putting up awnings on the outside of the buildings to add "a splash of color" to upgrade the center's facade, Krauth said.
Next year, he said, plans are to improve the common areas and parking garage, including erecting a bulb-lit "park here" marquee in handmade lettering.
"Our focus is on preserving the historical integrity of Warehouse Row while modernizing it," Krauth said.
Ron Harr, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's chief executive, said the city benefits when companies such as Jamestown invest in existing downtown structures.
He said there's a "ripple effect" that moves the area forward.
Krauth said Jamestown's investment includes the initial $14 million purchase of the facility, which had struggled as an outlet center for name-brand manufacturers when it was purchased from Prime Outlets.
Jamestown wooed more upscale tenants.
"The market has responded well to it," Krauth said about his company's plan to transform the former outlet site into an upscale, urban fashion center.
He said that personalized storefronts for individual retailers helped make Warehouse Row more pedestrian friendly and broke up the large, side-by-side brick structures. The change gave stores a more individualized boutique, brownstone look, Krauth said.
While keeping restaurants in the facility has proved a challenge, earlier this year Jamestown added Tupelo Honey Cafe, which opened four years after Warehouse Row previously expanded the complex to include the Public House bar and restauant. The restaurants have helped increase traffic at the center, he said. Still, plans are to add at least one more eatery, the official said.
The addition of new office tenants has helped increase the daytime population to the facility as well, Krauth said.
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