Two national retailers plan to open stores in Warehouse Row in what some say is a signal that Chattanooga's revived downtown has finally arrived on the radar of brands with nationwide reach.
J.Crew and Anthropologie, each offering apparel and accessories, will open units in time for Christmas shopping at the downtown retail and office center, according to owner Jamestown Properties.
Landing the pair of retailers is a "defining moment" for Warehouse Row and Chattanooga's urban revitalization, said Michael Phillips, chief operating officer for the company that bought the center in 2006.
J.Crew and Anthropologie are among the first retailers with national footprints to open non-outlet stores downtown in decades, according to Jamestown. City officials hope the moves start a trend and reverse the exodus of household names such as Sears, JCPenney and Woolworth from the city's core.
"That's exciting stuff," said Blair Mard, who heads retail recruiting at the nonprofit downtown development group River City Co. "It's a huge catalyst for the downtown retail scene."
Bob Doak, the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau chief, said the two retailers will add flavor to downtown's growing array of hotels and restaurants.
"The common-sense meter tells you that people like to shop when they're out of town," he said, adding that a vibrant downtown is "critical to the health of our city in terms of tourists and residents."
Both stores will anchor Warehouse Row's North Building.
J.Crew, which last week announced that it also plans to open a factory store in East Brainerd, will occupy 4,800 square feet directly across from the Tupelo Honey restaurant at Warehouse Row.
Anthropologie will fill 11,000 square feet on the north end of the first floor, making it the biggest retailer in the Market Street center.
Two other businesses also are coming to Warehouse Row, Jamestown officials said.
Onward Reserve, the center's first men's retailer, will take space in the South Building. It will open Sept. 1 in a 925-square-foot pop-up location lasting through January 2015.
Early next month, work on Woodhouse Day Spa will start directly above Anthropologie. The 5,800-square-foot, full-service day spa will offer more than 70 high-end, resort-style spa services, Jamestown said. It's slated to open in January.
But, Doak said, uncommon in downtown Chattanooga are the national retail brands.
"If you look at our downtown, the continued growth over the years, new hotels, restaurants, and some retail coming in, housing has come in -- it only makes sense retail will follow," he said.
J.Crew Group Inc., the multibrand retailer of women's, men's and children's apparel, shoes and accessories, operates 268 J.Crew retail stores. In addition, it runs 71 Madewell units and 125 factory stores. The company's first-quarter revenues increased 5 percent to $592 million, the group reported earlier this year.
Anthropologie is aimed at women wanting a mix of clothing, accessories, gifts and home decor. It has 175 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Its parent company, Urban Outfitters Inc., also operates under the Bhldn, Free People, Terrain and Urban Outfitters brands.
Total company net sales for the first quarter rose 6 percent over the same period last year to a record $686 million, it reported.
So far this year, Warehouse Row has announced five new tenants, including the Two Ten Jack eatery. Construction is under way on the 4,800-square-foot full-service restaurant that will pair Southern ingredients with Japanese-inspired food when it opens in January.
Warehouse Row was created from seven early 1900s buildings. In 1989, the structures were repurposed into a popular outlet concept and it housed 30 stores by name-brand manufacturers at one time.
But by 2006, fewer than half of its 23 tenants were retail stores. Atlanta- and New York-based Jamestown bought the center for $14 million from Prime Outlets. The company said it has invested about $30 million in the center, including the purchase price.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.