Passenger Flats rolls into new phase at Chattanooga Choo Choo

Jon Kinsey, right, Adam Kinsey and apartment manager Cat Collier Martinez walk past the first phase of the Passenger Flats apartments, on their way to the back of the property where another building at the hotel has been converted into apartments at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Passenger Flats has opened a second phase of apartments at the Chattanooga Choo Choo as the attraction's owners move ahead with the vast renaissance of the site in the heart of the Southside.

"The Southside is where people want to live, work, shop and play," said Jon Kinsey, the former Chattanooga mayor whose group bought the Choo Choo in 1989.

Fast fact

When the Passenger Flats and Bluebird Row apartments are leased up, between 700 and 800 people could be living at the Chattanooga Choo Choo site.

The new phase of Passenger Flats has 110 apartments, including studios that are 400 square feet in size along with 1,250-square-foot one bedrooms and 1,650-square-foot two-bedroom units.

Kinsey said rents range from $650 to $2,100 a month for the apartments, which were created in a building that was originally built for hotel rooms.

In all, Passenger Flats has 208 units with the first phase having opened in 2015. About 70 percent of the units are leased so far, Kinsey said.

Combine Passenger Flats with the adjacent 283-unit Bluebird Row Apartments under construction, that makes nearly 500 living spaces there.

Adam Kinsey, president of Choo Choo Partners, said there eventually will be between 700 and 800 people living in all of the apartments on the site.

"It's a great neighborhood," said Adam Kinsey about the Southside, noting the walkability of the area and the apartment complex's proximity to restaurants.

photo Jon Kinsey, right, apartment manager Cat Collier Martinez and Adam Kinsey ride the glass elevator to the fifth-floor of Passenger Flats, a former hotel building converted into apartments at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Cat Collier Martinez, the apartment manager, said there was additional demand for the units.

"Our goal is to provide the most convenient and connected living solution in Chattanooga," she said about Passenger Flats, which is on the Downtown Living tour slated for June 3.

Jon Kinsey said the second phase likely will be the last for Passenger Flats, though the Choo Choo continues its rebirth into a multi-use location.

About a half dozen new businesses recently opened or will open soon on Choo Choo property, where a hotel continues to operate as well.

Earlier this year, the Choo Choo announced it was donating the historic Terminal Station and its domed entrance to the local historic preservation agency Cornerstones Inc. In addition, Kinsey's group was giving $350,000 to help restore and preserve the entry to the former railroad station that once served 50 passenger routes each day.

Echelon, a newly-launched local stationary bike company, is moving into the Choo Choo to launch the city's first spin-only studio as well as sell its popular retail product. Nearby, there are plans to open a micro-distillery, said Adam Kinsey.

The tear down of a former Choo Choo restaurant off the domed lobby has revealed a concourse dating to 1906 that had served the railroad for many years, he said.

Some of the vintage rail cars on site have been repurposed to hold businesses and more of that will take place, the Choo Choo owners said.

"There are three more businesses going in two cars," Jon Kinsey said. "We're real close on another two."

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.