Work to start on $80 million Cameron Harbor project

Work to start on $80 million Cameron Harbor project

December 6th, 2009 by Mike Pare in Businesstopstory

Contributed rendering: This drawing shows the view from the river of the planned Cameron Harbor development.

Contributed rendering: This drawing shows the view from the...

A 115-room Spring Hill Suites by Marriott will help anchor an $80 million mixed-use development slated to start going up along the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga.

The hotel will join 16 townhouses, a restaurant, boat slips and Riverwalk in the first phase of the project known as Cameron Harbor, said managing developer Eugene "Buck" Schimpf.

The project is located on a nine-acre tract on the former Jones-Blair Co. property off Riverfront Parkway near Cameron Hill. Work is expected to start in the spring on what would be the largest private development on the city's downtown waterfront to date.

"I think it's the perfect time," said Mr. Schimpf, citing the chance for people to live downtown, be on the water and have access to a boat slip.

The Chattanooga developer said a second phase, slated to start in about two years, will feature a 25-unit high-rise condominium project, a pool and clubhouse.

Hiren Desai, chief operating officer of Chattanooga-based hotel developer 3H Group, said work on the $16 million, six-story Spring Hill Suites should start in mid-2010 with the opening in mid- to late 2011.

"Marriott and 3H thought it was a good fit," Mr. Desai said about Cameron Harbor and the hotel that is to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified.

He said the hotel will feature "premium water views" and have about 3,000 square feet of meeting space.

'tennessee coastal'

Mr. Schimpf said the Cameron Harbor townhouses, dubbed "Tennessee coastal" in design, will range from $1 million to $1.8 million each.

Darlene Brown, co-owner of Real Estate Partners in the city, said there have been six reservations for the townhouses, and marketing hasn't even started yet.

"I think this speaks highly of the project, the location and design, and the lifestyle Cameron Harbor will provide," said Ms. Brown, whose firm is marketing the development.

Meanwhile, the city plans to expand its nearby marina by up to 54 boat slips, with many of them fronting Cameron Harbor.

Larry Zehnder, the city's parks and recreation administrator, said it has received federal OK for the marina expansion. He said the city is looking at grant and other funding sources to finance the slips.

"We've got some money for dredging of the marina that was appropriated two years ago," Mr. Zehnder added.

He expected the marina work would be done concurrently with Mr. Schimpf's project.

The boat slips will be 20-feet by 50-feet in size and have individually metered power, water and cable TV, the developer said. A pier and piergolas will provide access to the slips.

Mr. Schimpf said his entity plans to build the Riverwalk extending from the 21st Century Waterfront Project at nearby Ross's Landing. Eventually, the city wants the Riverwalk to run onto property held by Alstom Power further downstream.

Mr. Schimpf said the three- and four-level townhouses will have galvanized metal roofs along with cedar shake, stone and board and batten exteriors. Each unit will hold minimum two-car garages with storage and are designed by River Street Architecture.

Mr. Schimpf said the townhouses, ranging from 2,500 to 4,200 square feet, are to be LEED certified and feature energy-saving systems. The townhouses are slated to have broad porches to enhance views to the river.

They'll serve as a pilot project for a new residential rating system for the city developed in response to the Chattanooga Climate Action Plan commissioned by Mayor Ron Littlefield, Mr. Schimpf said.

The townhouses will make up five acres of the nine-acre site.

Mr. Schimpf redeveloped the former Lovemans department store downtown into upscale condos and commercial space earlier this decade.

He said he's intrigued with taking a tract such as the former industrial site and turning it into a plus for the city.

"That was my overruling thought when I developed Lovemans," Mr. Schimpf said. "It's my overruling thought when I looked at this property."