Chattanooga hears ideas for revitalizing

Chattanooga hears ideas for revitalizing

January 9th, 2013 by Rachel Bunn in Local Regional News

Actors stand in the field at Engel Stadium for filming of "42".

What if Chattanooga became a center for athlete recovery, anchored by a physical therapy center on the Engel Stadium property?

It's just one of the ideas for two downtown Chattanooga spaces architecture students from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville presented Tuesday. About 20 people attended the meeting at GreenSpaces on Main Street.

Students studied an area of Engel-adjacent land on the corners of Third and O'Neal streets, as well as a parking lot at the intersection of East Seventh and Cherry streets -- areas that could jump-start urban revitalization.

"They're the kind of sites that most people think have always been this way," said Blythe Bailey, urban designer at Palmer Built Environments. "What students do very well is they kind of test that."

With the movie "42" -- the Jackie Robinson baseball movie that was filmed partially in Chattanooga last spring -- there has been a renewed interest in revitalizing Engel Stadium and its surrounding areas.

Students in senior lecturer James Rose's class were tasked with developing a building that would serve as a residential or residential and commercial space behind Engel's outfield. Student projects included a space for physical therapy and community spaces with restaurants, bars and gyms.

Janna Jahn, chairwoman of the Engel Foundation, said the students' projects helped inspire her thinking for the Engel property's potential, especially as a place where the interests of Engel, Erlanger hospital and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga could intersect.

The Cherry Street location, which was tackled by adjunct lecturer Sean Martin's class, focused on bringing more nightlife to an area of Chattanooga that is often ignored.

"I lived briefly in Chattanooga, and I spent a great deal of time downtown," Martin said. "There was a zone of, frankly, deadness that occurs in the middle, especially after the work day ends."

Students designed a hostel, and came up with projects that would focus on drawing in people exploring the area's natural resources, as well as provide another location for art galleries.