Wheland, U.S. Pipe project planned in Chattanooga's Southside

Wheland, U.S. Pipe project planned in Chattanooga's Southside

December 24th, 2013 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Mike Mallen

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Work on the first commercial project in the largest undeveloped tract in Chattanooga's Southside could start early next year.

Owners of the Wheland Foundry-U.S. Pipe parcel are planning an office and retail development on nearly two acres fronting South Broad Street.

Mike Mallen, a partner in Perimeter Properties, said the multimillion-dollar project is aimed at holding "uses that will be interesting and a little different and unique." That could also include a new restaurant at the site in a reuse of the brick buildings estimated at about 80 years old at South Broad and 28th streets, he said.

"We're looking in and out of town for uses," he said.

Mallen's group is partnering with Priam Ventures LLC of Nashville, a developer with experience in re-purposing old buildings. Plans are to create about 40,000 square feet of commercial space, Mallen said.

Andrew Stone of Priam said plans are to capture and reuse the existing architectural features of brick, wood and steel in the structures, which were formerly Combustion Engineering sites and later served Wheland as warehouses.

"We'll try to create space that has a wonderfully great vibe," he said. "We're pretty excited."

Mallen said what Priam has done in Nashville is "take similar former industrial property and turn it into more of an interesting venue."

Site of planned Wheland, U.S. Pipe project in Chattanooga.

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

This building, part of the former Wheland Foundry, is located on Broad Street.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

He said there are other tenants on the 141-acre Wheland-U.S. Pipe site which are providing manufacturing uses, but the new undertaking is the first commercial development.

Plans are to seek a rezoning of the property from manufacturing to urban general commercial from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Planning Commission in January. The City Council also will need to sign off on the zoning change.

Mallen's group bought Wheland Foundry, set between South Broad and Interstate-24, after the business shut down in 2003 following 136 years of operation.

Three years later, the adjacent U.S. Pipe business closed after more than 100 years of operation. Perimeter purchased that property and since has been looking at redevelopment options for both parcels.

The Great Recession that began in 2008 slowed the effort. Mallen said the economy is improving enough now that a master plan earlier crafted to redevelop a 100-plus-acre site is relevant again.

"That conversation has improved in the last 18 months," he said. "We're having more conversations."

Earlier this year, the state approved engineering money for a $40 million road project that will drastically help I-24 motorists exit into the Southside and to Lookout Mountain.

Also, plans are for the Tennessee Riverwalk to go through the Wheland and U.S. Pipe sites and onto St. Elmo.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.