A rendering shows an aerial view of the Holtzclaw Avenue commercial and residential project. The site is to hold 250,000 square feet of commercial space and about 120 residential units. / Rendering by Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects

This story was updated Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, at 9:35 p.m.


Groundbreaking for the mixed-use project at 1601 Holtzclaw Ave. is set for Aug. 15 at 10 a.m.

The Austin Hatcher Foundation is to anchor the commercial part of a planned $40 million redevelopment of a former Chattanooga manufacturing site near downtown.

"It's a pretty good deal for us and pretty good for them," said Nashville developer Michael Kenner, who bought the former Rock-Tenn facility at 1601 Holtzclaw Ave.

Tracey Burke, executive director of the Chattanooga foundation that provides services to children with cancer and their families, said it has agreed to buy a 33,000-square-foot building at the site.

"It's a huge expansion for us," she said. "We're very excited."

Plans are to expand the foundation's services, such as adding occupational therapy, and grow others which it already offers, Burke said.

The development group's planned makeover of the empty 8-acre manufacturing site into new commercial and residential space will be one of the biggest projects to date in Chattanooga's hot East Main Street corridor.

Kenner said plans are to have 25,000 square feet of commercial space along with about 120 residential units.

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A courtyard is shown in a rendering of the Park Central Lofts project at 1601 Holtzclaw Ave. A Nashville developer is planning a $40 million development at the former Rock-Tenn site. / Rendering by Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects

He said there's enough pre-sale of loft-style townhomes to start work on the project, called Park Central Lofts. Sales for the initial units are expected to hit the low $300,000 range, Kenner said. Eventually, bigger units will go from $500,000 to $600,000 each, he said.

Also, for-lease apartments are planned for the tract, Kenner said.

A groundbreaking for the project is scheduled for Aug. 15 at 10 a.m.

Officials at the foundation, currently located in the Fleetwood Building off East 11th Street, are looking forward to the move to the renovated space, said Burke.

"The building is in really nice shape," she said about the foundation's part of the project valued at approximately $3.2 million.

The location is convenient to Erlanger hospital for the foundation's patients who are still in treatment, Burke said.

"That's critical," she said.

Burke said Kenner's group, MiKen Development, is helping financially with the project and the foundation is seeking partners to aid with construction supplies.

She said about 10 people work at the foundation currently and plans are to increase that number to up to 15.

Burke said the site will hold an in-house auto garage to permit youth to work with tools.

"It's good therapy," Burke said. "It's great for families to do. We do a lot of projects with autos."

Also, plans are to have music therapy and to use part of the space for a "gallery of hope," she said. It will hold artwork from those affected by cancer, Burke said.

Kenner said the red-brick buildings at the site date to the 1930s and he termed the structures "in beautiful shape."

He said his company is the fourth largest in-fill developer in Nashville, though this is his first project in Chattanooga.

"We're looking to develop a nice pipeline in Chattanooga," Kenner said.

The East Main Street area from Central Avenue to Dodds Avenue is seeing a number of new developments with more planned.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

Correction: There will be 25,000 square feet of commercial space in the planned redevelopment, not 250,000 as previously stated.