Urban living sparks vibrant energy

Urban living sparks vibrant energy

March 25th, 2012 by Karen Nazor Hill in Chattanooganow2012

Terry Ballinger was one of the first to move in to the former Lovemans building in downtown Chattanooga after upper floors of the landmark department store were converted to condos early 10 years ago.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.


Some of the downtown condominium developments that have arisen in recent years:

Clark Centre 1463 Market St.

Stanton Row West 17th Street

BridgeView North Market Street

One North Shore Manufacturers Road

Terrace at Frazier Frazier Avenue

Terry Ballinger moved to downtown Chattanooga 12 years ago, a decision he said he has never regretted.

In 2001, he bought a condo in the Lovemans Building on Market Street. "At that time it was intriguing and it fulfilled logistic needs," he said. "[It] offered the convenience of downtown living in an environment fitting my lifestyle and direction. The potential was enormous."

Ballinger's one-level, 2,200-square-foot condo has two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

"You get the flavor of the old Lovemans [a former upscale department store] with exposed columns and high ceilings. All rooms are spacious. The openness gives it a down-home feel."

Ballinger said he's the first and longest resident at Lovemans. "I love the bragging status of being a 'towner,' " he said, noting that when he first moved there, his friends didn't think it was cool.

That has changed.

A financial adviser at the downtown location of Merrill Lynch, Ballinger walks one block to work.

"My trek to work is a five-minute stroll. My front yard is [Miller Park and Waterhouse Pavilion] surrounded by the beautiful architecture of old and new, and I'm loving it," he said.

The drawbacks of living downtown are few, Ballinger said.

"Most people think the downtown traffic would create a lot of noise but that really isn't the case. I hardly notice the day-to-day sounds. You will, at times, hear car horns, people talking and emergency vehicles as they pass through the intersections, but otherwise it becomes unnoticed," he said.

And, he has gotten to know some of the homeless.

"Many of my city neighbors are the community folks who will ask for a dollar here or there," Ballinger said. "Most I have gotten to know by face if not by name. They are our neighbors, and I think you have to have a mindset that every community has their strengths and areas to work with, and patience is a virtue."

Ballinger loves the outdoor music concerts, especially the Nightfall series, a weekly summer music festival.

Also, he pointed out, Hamilton Place mall is just a 15-minute drive from his home.

Ballinger is not surprised that others have jumped on the downtown-living bandwagon.

"I always said Lovemans is the center of what will be the coming exclamation or focal point as the Northside and the Southside meet in the middle," he said. "There are no surprises regarding the development of the downtown area. I have contacts around the United States, and we all believe Chattanooga is becoming the biggest little city in the South."

Ballinger said there are needs in the area.

"We do need grocery stores and pharmacies. With a bit of planning and work, we could be a total pedestrian society."