One of Chattanooga's oldest downtown office buildings, originally built in 1911 as an apartment complex, is returning to its residential roots under a new owner.
The Flatiron Building at 707 Georgia Ave. was sold last week to a group of Chattanooga investors that is planning to spend $6 million to buy and convert the historic, four-story building into residential condominiums built atop upgraded first-floor offices. Known as Flatiron Heights, the 27,884-foot structure will feature three stories of luxury condos renovated to add new balconies that will capture the downtown views offered from the top floors of the triangular building.
"We were attracted to the Flatiron Building by its great history and location, and with these upgrades, we think these condos will truly be unique in Chattanooga," Robert Fisher, a commercial real estate agent with Keller Williams and a partner in the investment group that bought the Flatiron building.
The developers envision about 15 or so of the condos being built, although they are being flexible based on the size and type of units future residents may choose.
"When the Flatiron Building was originally built in 1911, it was an apartment building with about 30 units, and while we are changing the size of these units and making some improvements, we are keeping the historic look and brick exterior," said Bo Ferger, another partner in the project. "Downtown Chattanooga is really attracting people wanting to live in the central city and the Flatiron certainly has a great location and historic look. It also offers tremendous views from the upper floors looking all the way to the Cameron Hill area."
Flatiron Building in downtown Chattanooga
The first floor of the Flatiron Building along Georgia and Walnut avenues also will be upgraded for office space. The new owners of the building, located across from the Hamilton County Courthouse, hope the renovated offices will prove attractive for legal and other professional offices.
Renovations are expected to take about 10 months. The new owners hope to have condos sold and occupied in early 2023.
The investors in the project include Chattanooga businessmen Bo Ferger and Dan Levan, along with Fisher, who collectively own Fisher Bay LLC. Additionally, Modus Build owner Clint Dean is a partner in the project and the contractor for the planned renovation. The building project is also being backed by other limited partners, Fisher said.
The Flatiron Heights Building, which derives its name from a similar triangular-shaped building in New York City, has been owned for the past 29 years by T.E. Properties Inc. in Chattanooga. David Kent, president of T.E. Properties, said his company is eager to focus on other properties. "I didn't have the time to spend on this building to keep it up and to go after tenants to keep it occupied," he said.
Nearly half the tenants that once filled the building have left or are expected to soon vacate the structure as it is marketed and redeveloped, he said. The building included about 20 office tenants when full.
"We were blessed to have a pretty full building most of the time we owned it," Kent said.
The original apartment building was owned by Sam Read, who also built the Read House hotel downtown. The structure was later converted for office tenants.
Fisher said there is more demand right now for residential properties than for office space in downtown Chattanooga.
"Overall, the office market is shrinking where the residential market is growing," Fisher said. "We'll be giving notices to a lot of these tenants that in four months we plan to start demolition work."
A year ago, the Flatiron Deli closed its doors after operating for more than 12 years along Walnut Street in a ground-floor storefront. Deli owner Jeni Brown blamed the closing on the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic as one of at least a half dozen restaurants in and around downtown that closed over the past couple of years.
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6340.