More than 83 years after the first Krystal restaurant open its doors at Seventh and Cherry streets in downtown Chattanooga, the site is making a comeback.
Locally based Fidelity Trust Co. has bought the three-story, 20,000-square-foot building, which once served as the corporate headquarters for the Krystal fast-food restaurant chain. Fidelty is refurbishing the space for a trio of technology companies in a $2.7 million project.
OpenTable, which handles more than 15 million diners per month via online bookings, will anchor the 701 Building and move into the entire third floor later this year, said Matt McGauley, who purchased the structure with his father Mike.
Also, interactive design and development firm Whiteboard along with Southtree, which bills itself as the nation's largest direct-to-consumer home movie and photo digitizer, have signed up as tenants, they said.
"The 701 Building redevelopment will be one of the signature projects in the Innovation District," Matt McGauley said, citing the area set aside in the central business district to help create a mix of startup companies and business incubators and accelerators.
Mayor Andy Berke, who pushed for the district, said the 701 Building project is an example of companies coming to together in a dense area to help showcase the city's technology economy.
He said the reuse of the building is an added bonus, noting many of the people who work in such companies like older structures.
"It allows us to utilize our older housing stock," Berke said.
Joining the three firms will be Brody Jewelers, which will expand its current footprint in the building along Cherry Street.
Mike McGauley said about 100 people will be working in the building when the extensive renovations are complete.
"All the companies have expansion plans place," he added.
The only space not leased up yet is the former Krystal restaurant space, the developers said. They're looking for an eatery, but willing to change their minds if another concept comes along for the 3,600-square-foot, street-corner location.
Matt McGauley said they courted the trio of businesses, looking for companies who will fit the Innovation District.
"We targeted tech-driven businesses," he said.
Given that strategy, the building will be renovated to appeal to millennials, with open and interesting floor space, the developer said. Stained and polished concrete floors, exposed and painted concrete and steel truss ceilings, and reclaimed wood accents will be among its features, he said.
Two terraces and a balcony will be constructed to provide office tenants with outdoor areas, McGauley said.
At the same time, he said, plans are to restore the limestone building exterior and refinish its vintage terrazzo stairway compete with art deco steel handrails.
"The building has a great history," McGauley said.
Berke said the project and its tenants show the impact of the Innovation District, which aims to bring companies together in a dense area.
"The Innovation District is about making sure we concentrate entrepreneurial businesses in one area so they're constantly running into each other and expressing new ideas," the mayor said.
Mike McGauley said the developers' investment, along with that in nearby buildings they've revamped, is an indicator they think the city center is "the place to be."
He noted there are some 200 new residential units planned for the area, and that helps drive new retail and business.
"You want to be on the leading edge of the trend," McGauley said.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.