Chattanooga continues local zoo with new 50-year lease

The City of Chattanooga is extending the life of the Chattanooga Zoo with the passage Tuesday evening of a 50-year lease on the property.

The agreement, passed unanimously during a weekly City Council meeting, provides a half-century partnership on the approximately 14-acre parcel at 301 N. Holtzclaw Ave. with an annual rent of $1.

Dardenelle Long, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Zoo, said the relationship with the city has brought conservation and education to the area.

"We believe that the partnership between the Friends of the Zoo and the city of Chattanooga is by far one of the strongest and most beneficial partnerships in our community," Long said in a statement emailed to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "The zoo has continued to grow and prosper under the leadership of Friends of the Zoo, and each new program, improvement or exhibit creates an even more valuable resource for both local community members and those traveling to Chattanooga."

The property on Holtzclaw Avenue was sold to the city in 2010, according to records from the Hamilton County Assessor of Property. The current lease between the city and the zoo was set to expire May 14.

In 2010, the Friends of the Zoo reached an 11-year lease agreement with the city to help pay off debts owed by the zoo. The agreement had the city giving the zoo $1 for every $2 the zoo raised for capital improvements, up to $250,000 a year.

Contact Wyatt Massey at or 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @news4mass.