The rusty remnants of the former Wheland and U.S. Pipe foundries on Chattanooga's southside are "a long-time eyesore" to Mayor Tim Kelly and a troubling introduction to what is billed as "Gig City" to millions of motorists entering Chattanooga on Interstate 24.
But to developer Jim Irwin, the 140-acre former manufacturing site offers one of the best opportunities he has seen for an urban revival on one of the gateways to Chattanooga. Irwin, who has spent his career re-imagining brownfield properties in Midwestern and Southern cities, says the former foundries comprise "one of the most beautiful sites in my career" for redevelopment.
"You have Disney World here," he says in describing the prospects for the land between South Broad Street and Interstate 24.