Bank building to be revamped as hotel

Bank building to be revamped as hotel

August 20th, 2009 by Mike Pare in Businesstopstory

Staff Photo by Tim Barber<br> Sue Lauffer, senior project consultant for CLP Development of Atlanta, stands in the vault of the former Chattanooga Bank & Trust Building on Wednesday. The vault will house a banquet and private party room when the Crowne Plaza Hotel, at Eighth and Market streets, opens sometime next year. The tranformation of the old bank building has been estimated to cost upwards of $24 million to complete.

Staff Photo by Tim Barber<br> Sue Lauffer, senior project...

A development group has set Oct. 1 to start a $24 million refurbishing of the Chattanooga Bank & Trust Building downtown into a Crowne Plaza hotel and condominiums.

Plans are to open the 142-room hotel June 1, 2010, said Carla Dodson, a principal in Atlanta-based CLP Development.

The condo portion of the building will be called Regency Condominiums.

"I fell in love with the building," Ms. Dodson said about the 11-story landmark at the corner of Market and Eighth streets built in the mid-1920s.

Most businesses inside the building have moved out, but a longtime tenant is slated to stay.

Sue Lauffer, senior project consultant, said fixture Rone-Regency Jewelers will vacate during renovation, but the business will later move back into a little larger space at the same corner.

Ms. Lauffer said Raines Brothers is the general contractor, and a letter of intent is signed with a local food and beverage operator for a restaurant on the hotel's first floor. She declined to name the operator until the deal is final.

Ms. Lauffer said the group also is looking at a FedEx Kinko's type of business as well as a dry cleaner.

Kim White, chief executive of the private, nonprofit redevelopment group RiverCity Co., said having an out-of-town development group invest in such a project speaks volumes about downtown.

"It will be a real catalyst for other things to occur," she said.

Paul Broadhead Jr., another principal in the firm, said the company was working on projects in Nashville and Cartersville, Ga., and he kept coming through Chattanooga and liked the city, especially downtown.

"It's got the romanticism," he said.

Mr. Broadhead said he spent a couple of months exploring the market and talking with Realtors, developers and others, and then approached Ms. Dodson.

She said she initially was reluctant to take on a new project, but he talked her into coming to Chattanooga and she saw what is happening downtown and in the rest of the city.

The firm, which has done a number of shopping centers, purchased the building from Chattanooga attorney Robert Brown, who had owned it since 1989.

Ms. Dodson said financing for the project is set to close in late September.

The hotel is to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certified, she said, and only the second countrywide to hold the designation.