Chattanooga's long-vacant Southside lot to be apartments, retail

Chattanooga's long-vacant Southside lot to be apartments, retail

September 22nd, 2013 by Shelly Bradbury in Business Around the Region

John Wise is planning a major redevelopment at the corner of Main and Market streets in downtown Chattanooga.

John Wise is planning a major redevelopment at...

One of the prime gateways to downtown Chattanooga will be developed as a mixed-use apartment and retail building, according to property owner River City Company.

At the corner of Main and Market Streets, Wise Properties is planning to build a 4-story, $7 million complex of retail stores and rental housing units. The 75,000-square-foot building will include 60 apartment units as well as 10,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level.

Construction should start by the end of the year and will be finished in 2014, developer John Wise said.

"It really completes that street," River City president and CEO Kim White said. "I think it will add a lot to a major gateway."

While much of the rest of the Southside has developed and filled in, the corner at Market and Main -- a major intersection in downtown and just a few doors down from the Chattanooga Choo Choo -- remained empty.

White said the company was working with a developer to build out the lot a few years ago, but those plans dried up when the recession hit. It's been sitting empty for about five years.

The company solicited offers and vetted design proposals through a group of about a dozen urban planners, developers and designers. White said Wise's design was a good fit, and he also stood out because he'd already secured financing.

"John [Wise] seems to have the ability to get it done," she said. "With his ability to make it happen and our ability to make sure there is a strict design standard, I think it will be a good partnership."

The development will include apartments ranging from efficiencies to 1,500-square-foot three bedrooms. There will be 60 parking spaces built on-site for residents.

Also, a few blocks down at 320 E. Main Street, the soon-to-be finished new location of the Integrative Center for Medicine has agreed to open its parking lot up for neighborhood use before and after business hours to help meet parking needs, White said.

She expects the apartments to appeal to professionals and families who want to work and live in the same neighborhood.

"There's a lot more people working on Main Street, so this gives people an opportunity to live and walk to work," she said.

With 10,000 square feet of retail, the development should also increase foot traffic and customers in the Southside, White said. Wise said he's already had some interest in the retail space.

"It's the premier corner on the Southside," he said. "You've got the best visibility."

Kitty-corner neighbor and Blue Orleans owner Michael Adams said it's a relief to see apartments finally going up at the intersection.

"It's about time," he said. "We were one of the first, and everything was done on the premise that [apartments] are coming and it's going to be the hub. Then the economy tanked and all that went away."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or