The Bend, Lookouts stadium projects move toward construction

148Films / The former Alstom Power tract on the Tennessee River, now called The Bend, is shown in an aerial photo earlier this year. Also shown is the College Hill Courts housing project on the Westside.
148Films / The former Alstom Power tract on the Tennessee River, now called The Bend, is shown in an aerial photo earlier this year. Also shown is the College Hill Courts housing project on the Westside.

Two of Chattanooga's biggest proposed redevelopment projects, The Bend and the new Lookouts ballpark, crossed separate hurdles Monday to move toward construction.

Groundbreaking at The Bend could take place next month off M.L. King Boulevard near Riverfront Parkway after a city panel approved executing an agreement related to the plans for the site.

Announcements of new housing, a grocery store and other retail space at the site are in the pipeline, said Jimmy White, president of Chattanooga-based developer Urban Story Ventures.

"We've got agreements with other developers patiently waiting for this day. We're ready to get going," White said in an interview after a meeting of the Chattanooga Industrial Development Board. "It's going to be transformational."

Plans are to start putting in underground utilities and constructing building pads on a portion of the former 120-acre Alstom Power manufacturing site that sits between Riverfront Parkway and the Tennessee River, he said.

The plan for the area, called One Westside, already has won approval from the City Council and Hamilton County Commission. A special tax zone was created to help spur reuse of The Bend, and it would provide funding for a possible new downtown school and redevelopment at the site of College Hill Courts housing project nearby.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County Commission unanimously approves Westside tax zone)

In all, the effort is aimed at revitalizing about 300 acres of the city's Westside.

"We've been through this process for about a year," White said. "It's the culmination of a lot of hard work by the city, county and Chattanooga Housing Authority."

Development at The Bend could be up to $2.3 billion and include thousands of square feet in residential, retail and commercial space, the developer says. The special tax zone allows certain revenues generated by the project to support development, rather than being used for general government services.

The city Industrial Development Board on Monday authorized the execution of a development and tax incentive agreement regarding the project.


Also, in a rare meeting between the city and county industrial development boards, both panels approved an amendment to an agreement enabling the proposed $115 million Lookouts stadium and potential surrounding development to go ahead.

(READ MORE: County Commission OKs funding plan)

Jim Irwin, president of Atlanta-based New City Properties and master developer of the 120-acre former U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site along Interstate 24 where the stadium will sit, cited new housing and office projects his firm is designing.

That includes a 60,000- to 70,000-square-foot office building and a 300-unit apartment building, he said.

Also, Irwin said another potential project is a hotel nearby. In addition, his company has started thinking about small music venues on the property.

"There will be lots of retail all around," he said, saying the area around the ballpark would be a year-round, meeting-and-shopping destination along with holding plenty of housing.

Jermaine Freeman, Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly's chief of staff, outlined at the meeting the financing plan that has already won the OK of the City Council and County Commission.

According to the plan, $80 million in bonds would be issued by a city-county sports authority and paid back mostly by new city and county tax revenue generated by the stadium development.

Also, there will be a $26 million private loan obtained by the team and landowner, paid back with new city property tax revenue in a 470-acre tax district around the stadium, but not with county revenue.

In addition, there will be $5 million in additional sports authority debt, also repaid from city's property tax revenue and potentially hotel motel taxes or local sales taxes.

Also, there's a $3 million up front contribution from the Lookouts along with $1 million interest earnings on the $80 million bond.

Officials have said about $1 billion of housing, office and other commercial development could be attracted on the foundry property and several hundred acres nearby.

The two development boards approved an amendment to the economic impact plan for the South Broad District Plan Area.

The Lookouts expect to miss opening day 2025 for the debut of their planned new minor league ballpark, which had been the goal before delays set in over financing. But the club is still eyeing play in the stadium sometime that season, a team official said earlier.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.

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