Chattanooga: Offices, restaurant planned for downtown

Chattanooga: Offices, restaurant planned for downtown

January 20th, 2009 by Mike Pare in Business

A Chattanooga development group has bought the former Towing Museum building in downtown Chattanooga and plans to refurbish it into offices and a restaurant.

"We think it's a unique location," said John Clark, a principal in Lincoln Partners LLC, which paid $1.15 million for the Broad and Fourth streets site.

Mr. Clark said Rock Point Books will stay on at the two-story building as an anchor tenant.

However, work will start soon on a new restaurant in the structure. He said the eatery is part of a chain and will have a local franchisee. Mr. Clark declined to give the restaurant's name but said it is to open in the spring.

Also, plans are to turn about 7,500 square feet of second floor space into offices, he said.

Vision Hospitality Group had held the site, which it had bought along with the Chattanooga Regional History Museum building at Fourth and Chestnut streets.

Mitch Patel, Vision's chief executive, said the company's focus is on hotels and not on other kinds of development.

He said Vision still plans to build a Hampton Inn & Suites on the Chestnut parcel, though construction is "slightly delayed."

"Hopefully, we'll be starting construction this year, and it will open sometime in 2010," Mr. Patel said about the 140-room hotel. "It's a difficult time for any new project anywhere."

Mr. Clark said Vision and his group plan to put up a parking garage on a lot next to the Broad Street building. Likely, that will be a two-level garage, he said.

Mr. Clark wouldn't say how much is slated to be invested into the project but said the outside of the building won't be altered in order to save its historic look. He believes the building was erected in the 1920s.

"We're not changing anything about the exterior," Mr. Clark said.

The location is across Fourth Street from a planned new Carmike movie theater. Workmen already have fenced off the entire block so work can begin on the movie house, which will feature 12 screens and stadium seating.

That $12 million project will go up on what is now a parking lot at Broad and Third streets and replace the Bijou Theater nearby, officials said.