Tallest office building in Chattanooga in 42 years planned for The Bend

Rendering by ESa / A 10-story office building would sit at the end of Main Street at The Bend if the project receives city approval.

The developer of the Alstom site in downtown Chattanooga's west side will seek approval on Friday for a 10-story office tower that will be the tallest such building raised in the city in over 40 years.

The 200,000-square-foot structure slated for what's now called The Bend would sit at the end of Main Street near Riverfront Parkway, said Jimmy White of landowner Urban Story Ventures.

White pegged the cost of the building from $50 million to $60 million. A nearby 972-space parking garage, which earlier received the OK from a city zoning panel, could cost another $20 million to $25 million, he said.

The 160-foot office tower will be "cutting edge," White said.

"It will be a nod to the industrial history of the site," he said. Manufacturing began on the 121-acre property that sits along the Tennessee River in the 1880s.

At the same time, the project will offer "a 21st century new class A building," White said, providing rooftop amenities and a courtyard in the front for potential restaurant seating.

"It will bring something new and different to Chattanooga," he said.

White said he has letters of intent to lease space in the building from multiple tenants, though he declined to give names. Prospective tenants include companies not already located in the city as well as those which do have a presence, he said.

White said the building when full should house 600 to 700 people.

He said that plans are to start work in April if the project can get variances on Friday from the city's Form-Based Code Committee.


Biggest towers by feet in Chattanooga* Republic Centre - 300 feet/21 stories* Truist Bank - 280 feet/20 stories* Liberty Tower - 212 feet/17 stories* First Tennessee Bank - 204 feet/17 stories* James Building - 187 feet/12 storiesSource: Emporis

The developer is seeking to go 10 feet over the maximum height of 150 feet for a building at the site, an application for the changes shows. Also, he's seeking a reduction in street frontage from a 90% minimum to 74%.

David DeVaney, chief executive of Chattanooga commercial real estate company NAI Charter, said he's interested to see if there's a lead tenant for the tower and what level office rents will hit.

"They'll probably be setting the market based on other office space," he said.

But the tower will offer premiere views of the river and downtown along with prestige, DeVaney said. Also, the space will be built to suit for the tenants and there will be parking, he said.

The last office building to go up taller than the proposed structure at The Bend is the 17-story Liberty Tower on Chestnut Street which was raised in 1979, according to the website Emporis.

Chattanooga's tallest building is Republic Centre next door on Chestnut at 21 stories.

White said The Bend's new office tower will have an address of 1111 West Main, and that's what it ultimately could be called.

He said there are projects in the pipeline at The Bend valued at up to $200 million. He said about 700 people now work on site.

Later this month, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm is slated to be in Chattanooga when battery-materials maker Novonix marks the retrofitting of its facility at The Bend. Novonix is investing about $160 million and creating 290 jobs in a former Alstom facility.

Earlier this week, a city planning panel signed off on rezoning a parcel at The Bend along the river for a possible new downtown marina.

A new medical building, the first new structure at The Bend, is under construction. It will hold an independent surgery center specializing in spine, pain management and orthopedic procedures.

The former Alstom property was renamed The Bend after Chattanooga developer White and local hotel operator Hiran Desai bought the parcel from GE Power for $30 million in 2018.

White said the 700 people now working on the tract is more than three times the number GE Power employed when it announced the facility's closing in 2015. That's still far below the 5,700 employees the former Combustion Engineering Corp. once had at the site when C-E was the biggest manufacturing employer in Chattanooga nearly a half century ago.

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