Erlanger and UTC officials said Wednesday that the potential reuse of a key nearby 17-acre former manufacturing site could serve as a catalyst for more growth and jobs in the area.
However, Lincoln Park residents remained cautious about a proposal for extending Central Avenue to Riverside Drive through the site, worrying about the traffic it could bring to their neighborhood.
Chattanooga's Enterprise Center is overseeing a $200,000 brownfield study to redevelop the site, where Cannon Equipment and Cumberland Corp. ran an operation for many years before the facility was shut down in July 2012.
An Augusta, Ga., company recently took an option to purchase the tract with the idea of building a mixed-use development.
Wayne Cropp, who heads the Enterprise Center, said the reuse of the Riverside Drive property also could spur economic development involving nearby parcels.
"It's strategically located," he said at a public hearing.
Richard Brown, UTC's executive vice chancellor of finance and operations, said the tract's redevelopment could have a major impact on the university.
"If it's developed correctly, it could spur economic development on Third Street," he said, noting UTC owns 28 acres off that artery. Its property includes Engel Stadium and 15 undeveloped acres, Brown said.
The Cannon/Cumberland Corp. tract can be "a catalyst for a lot of downstream growth," he said.
Mike Baker, Erlanger's facilities administrator, said the hospital's property is adjacent to the 17-acre parcel, and he's interested in seeing educational and medical office development on the land.
Also, the proposed Central Avenue extension is viewed as offering "critical access" for the hospital's patients, he said.
But Wiley Morton, who said he's working with Lincoln Park residents, noted there are concerns the road could become a major thoroughfare. He added there are worries about a sentiment that "Lincoln Park doesn't exist."
Morton said the neighborhood wants input into the planning process.
Cropp said plans are for a design meeting and others in the future.
"I've talked about going into the community," he said.
Brown said the neighborhood's concerns are "very reasonable. Everything should be very transparent."
Rob Bradham, vice president of public strategies for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Cannon/Cumberland property has infrastructure and access and its proximity to Erlanger and UTC makes it unique.
"That opens it up to more interesting uses," he said.
Chris Senn, vice president of Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial, said it has an option to buy the site and wants to work with stakeholders in the area to see what makes sense in terms of development.
"We're moving forward on our end," he said.
Cropp said the plan is slated to be finished by September 2015, but he hopes to advance the timeline. He said officials will know what remediation will be needed on the site, if anything.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.