Glass House sold: Neighborhood's redevelopment hopes still shine

The former Glass Street Collective building in East Chattanooga has been condemned and is no longer inhabited. Photo taken on Tuesday, June 2, 2015.

The building initially set to be the catalyst for Glass Street revitalization was sold to a private owner this month. But Glass House Collective officials say the area's revitalization goes beyond the building and community improvement will continue.

The Chattanooga Community Development Financial Institution, operated by Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, sold the building to Michele Peterson of Mountain Home, Tenn.

CNE donated use of the building to Glass House Collective. The building housed Hamilton National Trust and Savings Bank in the 1920s.

Peterson signed the deed to purchase the Glass House building and the park next to it on July 20. The total purchase is for $25,000.

photo The former Glass Street Collective building in East Chattanooga has been condemned and is no longer inhabited. Photo taken on Tuesday, June 2, 2015.

Hamilton County Tax Assessor records show the property was last appraised at $70,100.

And Glass House Collective spent about $50,000 just to develop the pocket park next to the building that is included in the purchase.

Neighbors have questioned the sale, despite the building requiring more than $60,000 of repairs.

However, Glass House Collective Executive Director Teal Thibaud, who hosted community meetings and parties at the office, said she is not discouraged by the sale and added that neighborhood improvement will continue.

"Our body of work is not solely dependent on a building," she said.

When Glass House opened its office at 2523 Glass St. in 2012, the street contained more vacant buildings than businesses. Since Glass House started drawing attention to the area, investors purchased six buildings including the former Glass House Building, Thibaud said. Designer Garth Brown renovated the building to reflect the revitalized hope for the entire neighborhood.

Some residents complained that East Chattanooga, which includes Glass Street, had been overlooked in Chattanooga's overall revitalization.

In the same year that the office opened, a gang assessment conducted for city officials East Chattanooga as a community where gangs are "entrenched."

Thibaud said she hopes to work with the new owner for the community's continued revitalization.

Neither Martina Guilfoil, executive director of CNE, nor Peterson could be reached for comment Thursday.

Businesses that once thrived on Glass Street in the 1950s and 1960s closed or relocated. However long-time resident Verlene Middlebrooks said the community is no more crime-ridden than the North Shore area.

She said she's glad to see investment on Glass Street, and she's curious about Peterson's plans for the building.

"I just want to see more businesses in the community, I don't care who does it," she said.

The building's floor at Glass House Collective collapsed during a Christmas party in December 2014 and has been vacant since then.

CNE officials thought repairs would be simple but later learned the building had significant water damage.

Bids for building repairs came into CNE at $60,000-plus, said Guilfoil at the time.

Tax assessor records list Peterson as owner of three other Hamilton County parcels of land, all near the 300 block of Tucker Street in north Chattanooga.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or 757-6431.