Concerted Effort

Concerted Effort

September 1st, 2011 Merrell McGinness in Local Regional News

These days, Adam Kinsey considers it a good day if he eats lunch. Things have been pretty hectic for the 31-year-old real estate developer as he juggles the daily demands of his job at Kinsey Probasco Hays as well as the Sept. 1 launch of his newest venture, Track 29.

His business partner and operations manager Josh McManus, 33, averages about 400 emails per day. In addition to fielding requests from talent across the country, McManus is still involved with his first entrepreneurial endeavor, Create Here, as well as his community-building consulting business, Little Things.

"We have a really great team that we can delegate and depend on, and that's really been the key to getting it all done," says Kinsey.

Dan Rather, George Lewallen, Josh McManus and Adam Kinsey

One of the great surprises of this two-year project has been how many experienced people they've been able to draw from the local talent pool. Receiving literally hundreds of resumes, most of the venue's partners and employees are from Chattanooga - including the stage, lighting and audio companies.

George Lewallen, 29, is one such partner. As bar manager at Tremont Tavern, Lewallen was looking to open his own place in the Southside when approached by Kinsey and McManus. And when Track 29 opens its doors this month, he'll be in charge of the city's largest bar, which he designed from scratch, featuring a fully stocked walk-in cooler dividing four stations. With eight bartenders, it's their goal to not make anyone wait in line for a drink - a tall order when serving potentially 2,000 patrons per night. The Sewanee native never imagined getting involved in a music venue, but looks forward to cutting his concert travel schedule.

"This is something Chattanooga has lacked since I've been here, and it's cool to be involved in something that completely changes the way Chattanooga looks at live music," says Lewallen.

This month at Track 29

Jamey Johnson - Thursday, Sept 1 ' $35

Corey Smith - Friday, Sept 9 ' $17 advance, $20 door

Drive-By Truckers - Saturday, Sept 20 ' $20 advance, $22 door

M. Ward - Saturday, Sept 24 ' $23 advance, $25 door

Paper Diamond - Friday, Sept 30 ' $12 advance, $15 door

Another investor is fellow Sewanee graduate Dan Rather, 48. As an investor in some smaller music festivals in the Southeast, Rather was introduced to the project through mutual friends. Living on a farm in Sewanee since 1992, Rather began spending more and more time in Chattanooga as its renaissance unfolded. Nearly five years ago he bought a loft atop St. John's Restaurant and often rides his bike to his new workplace. When needed, he also brings his farm experience to the project, using his tractor to clear the land for the venue's back deck. As a non-smoking facility, the deck will allow smokers to take a break without missing a beat, thanks to a state-of-the-art PA system.

But the deck and the bar are just a few examples of Track 29's world-class facilities. As one of the only music clubs to feature VIP boxes, fans can enjoy a skybox experience in a much more intimate setting. Behind the stage two spacious green rooms offer stadium-type amenities such as showers, washer and dryer, and a separate office for the tour manager. On stage, the lighting and PA system is among the best in the Southeast, guaranteeing a superior music experience. A moveable stage - only the second in the country - makes the standing-room-only venue scalable to the crowd - further allowing for a cozy concert experience.

Of course, there have been bumps in the road. The current location - the old ice skating rink behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo - was the 14th building the partners toured, and even then its unique power needs was one of many hurdles. But there's an undeniable excitement for the project as Chattanooga realizes the need for such a space. The 12-person private investment team was assembled in only five months in a shaky economy.

And while it's a gutsy move to launch such an endeavor with little more music experience than concertgoers, Kinsey and McManus have displayed dogged determination and an innate foresight (aided, no doubt, by their heaps of research). After all, the duo has two decades of combined experience building communities. Kinsey's redevelopment work in Knoxville opened the door for a sit down with Bonnaroo creator Ashley Capps. And through his work with Create Here, McManus has awarded more than $700,000 in grants to artists and led the world's largest community visioning process, Chattanooga Stand.

"You can throw a rock from Track 29 and hit my apartment, so it's a labor of love to see this neighborhood continue its renaissance," says McManus. "If I look at what the Aquarium and the Bijou did for downtown, I hope Track 29 can help do that for the Southside."