Nashville investor buys Southside's Burnside with plans for more development

Staff Photo by Dave Flessner / The century-old warehouse that once housed the Andrews Paper Co., shown Friday, has been converted to apartments, commercial space and a No. 10 Steakhouse. The Nashville-based Material Ventures bought Burnside in June.

In its first major purchase outside of Middle Tennessee, a Nashville real estate investment firm has bought the Burnside development on Chattanooga's Southside with plans to add to the renovated warehouses and possibly buy other properties in the area.

Tim Johnson, a former vice president of multifamily investments for the San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties, started Material Ventures in Nashville last year and is looking to acquire and develop other multifamily and commercial properties in the region.

"Chattanooga is a strong and growing market, and we like projects that have a lot of character, like Burnside," Johnson said in a telephone interview after buying the three parcels of property involved in the restored factory and warehouses on Rossville Boulevard between the Norfolk Southern rail line and Central Avenue. "We're interested in holding our properties for the long term, and we like properties that are distinctive and can't be duplicated."

Burnside, a mixed-use community off Central Avenue in Chattanooga, includes 33 apartments, a Number 10 Steakhouse scheduled to open this fall and another 17,000 square feet of commercial and housing space on the first floor of the three-story complex. The apartments, restaurant and commercial space have been developed in the renovated former Acme Box Co. warehouse, while Green Tech Homes is developing single-family townhomes on the property behind the historic building.

The complex is named after Oliver Burnside Andrews, the founder of Andrews Paper Box Co. who built the brick structure more than a century ago. Once fully developed, the project will create more than $37 million in asset value, across three unique buildings and 43 townhomes.

"When I saw the momentum and authenticity of this mixed-use Burnside community, and that it had potential to be even more considering the unfinished space for more retail or commercial programming, I knew this was a great fit for us. It is full of possibilities that we're excited to explore," Johnson said.

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SEI Properties initially purchased the 6 acres of abandoned industrial property in 2016. Towson Engsberg and DeDe DuBose Engsberg, the principal owners of SEI Properties, made an offer on the property the day it went up for sale.

"I'd been running past this property for years and always thought it had huge potential," DeDe DuBose Engsberg said last year after buying the site. "Initially, we couldn't gather much interest from banks, but we assembled the right team of visionaries, and Renasant Bank in Atlanta truly partnered with us. They saw everything the place could offer."

GreenTech Homes previously purchased part of the property after SEI Properties completed the site work. The master-planned community will include 43 townhomes, green space, firepits, community seating and a dog park.

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GreenTech Homes also plans to expand and open its headquarters in the Burnside community with the purchase of the third standalone building. GreenTech will convert the 17,000-square-foot building to office space and a design studio.

"We are growing rapidly, and when the opportunity came to stay on the Southside and design this amazing industrial building for our headquarters, it was the perfect fit," Jeremy Fitzsimmons, director of sales at GreenTech Homes, said in a statement about the company's investment in Burnside. "Because of the location and thoughtful community design, you really have all the convenience of living downtown with the tight-knit neighborhood feel and community that our customers desire."

The first two phases of the townhomes are presold, Fitzsimmons said. GreenTech Homes will release the third set of townhomes for presale later this year. The designs include a mix of two and three-bedroom units, some with balconies, and all with two-car garages.

In 2021, Method Architecture purchased a 5,000-square-foot building next to the main Burnside building and converted it into office space for the firm.

Contact Dave Flessner at or 423-757-340. Follow on Twitter at @dflessner1