Chattanooga developers acquire almost 535 acres on Walden's Ridge

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Hiren Desai speaks with the Times Free Press on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Chattanooga, Tenn. He and fellow investor Jimmy White recently purchased 534 acres of undeveloped land on Walden's Ridge.

One of Chattanooga's biggest development companies has acquired one of Hamilton County's biggest undeveloped sites atop Walden's Ridge.

Real estate investors Jimmy White and Hiren Desai, partners in Urban Story Ventures, which owns and manages more than $250 million of offices, retail, industrial and residential properties, paid $5 million last month to buy more than 534 acres of property on Sawyer and Corral roads in unincorporated Hamilton County.

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Desai said the new owners are still evaluating the site and developing plans for the wooded parcel.

The property at 7019 Sawyer Road was purchased at the end of 2021 from partnerships and properties owned by William E. Matthews, Argil J. Wheelock, Jerry W. Mitchell and Hillcrest-Norfolk Properties, according to property records filed with the Hamilton County register of deeds.

In an announcement of the deal Tuesday, the developers said they will be developing plans over the next several months for future use of the property.

photo Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Jimmy White speaks with the Times Free Press at the site of his new development called "The Bend," where he plans to create a place for people to live, work, and experience nightlife along Chattanooga's Riverwalk which was formerly industrial campuses on Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Chattanooga, Tenn. White and fellow real estate investor Hiren Desai recently purchased 534 acres of undeveloped land on Walden's Ridge.

"Urban Story Ventures is committed to maintaining the character of the land and will request input from neighbors in their effort to create a development that suits the unique mountaintop community," the developers said in a statement.

Urban Story Ventures already has bought or developed about 2.8 million square feet of office buildings, retail, industrial and residential spaces in Chattanooga, Nashville, Daytona Beach, Florida, and St.Vero Beach, Florida. But as its name suggests, most of those properties have been in urban areas and have often involved redeveloping office buildings and industrial sites in central cities, not developing more rural sites like the one on Walden's Ridge.

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The company's most ambitious project is on Chattanooga's downtown Westside, where Urban Story Ventures is redeveloping the former Alstom manufacturing site and other nearby properties into a mixed-use development known as The Bend. White and Desai hope it will eventually include up to $3 billion of factories, offices, stores, housing, a marina, restaurants and other entertainment, including a racetrack.

- Compiled by Dave Flessner