Lamp Post buys One Central Plaza flatiron building in Chattanooga

Lamp Post buys One Central Plaza flatiron building in Chattanooga

August 22nd, 2014 by Alex Green in Business Around the Region

The One Central Plaza building, formerly owned by Jim Berry, has been acquired by Lamp Post Group.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

One Central Plaza, the flatiron-style building wedged between Georgia Avenue and Cherry Street in downtown Chattanooga, was purchased earlier this month by Chattanooga-based startup incubator Lamp Post Group for $3.5 million.

Lamp Post Group bought the eight-story building from the estate of the late Jim Berry, who was head of Republic Parking and owner of Liberty Tower and Republic Centre at the time of his death.

Berry bought One Central Plaza in 1987. The building underwent renovations in the earlier part of the 1980s, when Derthick, Henley & Wilkerson Architects installed the glass elevator in the building's corner.

"It was quite a job," said Bill Wilkerson, partner at the Chattanooga-based architecture firm.

At the time, the building's owner planned to triple the size of the space and eventually build a Two Central Plaza, but it never came to fruition.

Berry received offers over the years for One Central Plaza, though he never agreed to terms, said Steve Hunt, managing partner at Berry & Hunt realty asset company.

"Jim and Carlydia [Berry] loved that building and really had no interest in selling it," he said.

But after Berry's death in November, Berry & Hunt leaders revisited the idea of selling One Central Plaza, fielding offers from interested parties. Hunt said Berry & Hunt is not seeking to liquidate all its properties, however.

Lamp Post Group, a Chattanooga-based venture incubator, seized on the opportunity to own a landmark property in the City Center -- "the district that we really believe in," said Tiffanie Robinson, the company's director of operations.

She called the chance to own One Central Plaza "an opportunity that makes sense" for a company in the business of "venture capital."

"Honestly, we weren't looking for space, just an opportunity presented itself," Robinson said.

She said the building's current tenants are welcome to stay, and that Lamp Post Group is happy to keep Cornerstone Community Bank the flagship tenant for the long haul. Steam Logistics, a logistics and transportation company started under the Lamp Post banner, just signed a lease in May for space in One Central Plaza.

"We want all the tenants to stay as long as they want to stay," Robinson said.

Lamp Post Group is not looking to move any of its existing operations or offices out of the Loveman's Building on Market Street.

The purchase includes the Cornerstone Community Bank drive-through and the parking lot on which the building sits, but the Republic Parking lot on the adjacent property to the north was not part of the transaction.

Robinson said the bank's operations will be unaffected by the acquisition and that Lamp Post Group will simply manage One Central Plaza and broker future deals with tenants.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.