One of Chattanooga's most historically significant downtown blocks will be getting a new look in the next year with a $4.9 million renovation designed to reflect the city's past and promote its innovative future.
The city unveiled plans Monday night for Patten Parkway that will bring a new tree-lined canopy, elevated sidewalks and new public art, walkways and street fares to serve as a gathering space for pedestrians and vehicles.
The redesign of Patten Parkway, which was done for the city by WMWA Landscape Architects and Asa Engineering & Consulting, is part of the larger Miller Park District renovation and the final large-scale project in the district plan developed by the city over the past six years.
"I love living in our city and one of the things that makes it great is that there are places where we all come together and celebrate, or argue, or convene, or just to eat," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said. "Miller Park and the improvements on Eighth Street that we have added in the past couple of years have been transformative to our central city and I know this project will be as well."
The renovated block will feature a $300,000 "Radiance" public art display done by Future Forms Design of San Francisco, which include three lighted sculptures that will help frame the entrance to Patten Parkway off of Georgia Avenue.
"While the form of the artwork is fixed, the play of the lights and reflection will change throughout the day and provide a dramatic back drop for pedestrians who congregate on Patten Parkway," said Katelin Kirnie, executive director of Public Art Chattanooga.
The redesigned parkway is intended to be more pedestrian friendly with wider sidewalks and 41 new trees. It will still be open to vehicular traffic and will include 48 parking spaces, down from the current 70 spaces on the block.
The redesigned Patten Parkway is being supported by more than $2 million of private contributions raised by the downtown development group, River City Co., which also raised $6 million to support a majority of the $10 million expense of redoing Miller Park a block away.
"This really completes this Miller Park District and can serve to bring UTC and downtown together," said Kim White, executive director for River City Co. "When you look at all of the activity that we have in our center city with 55,000 workers, 12,000 (UTC) students on the hill and 3,200 new apartments., this is a great gathering space to bring the community together. It can be a great gateway to bring the students and the downtown community in one place."
The new design seeks to capture elements of the Old Market Square, the city's first farmers market and the old City Hall. Patten Parkway also was the site of the original Coca-Cola Bottling facility.
But the original Market Square was ultimately toppled in 1943 and a World War II monument was put on the block by the American Legion in 1946.
Blythe Bailey, administrator of the Chattanooga Department of Transportation, said the World War II monument and another monument erected later for the Marines will be relocated to another, as yet-unidentified site. The city received permission last fall from the Tennessee Historical Commission to relocate the monuments and Bailey said they will be stored indoors in a secure site until a new monument location is identified.
The proposed contract for the renovation of Patten Parkway is scheduled to be voted on by the Chattanooga City Council on April 30. Pending the council's approval, another public meeting with business owners in the area is planned at 5 p.m. May 15 at the Camp House on M.L. King to discuss the 12-month construction schedule, which is tentatively set to begin in June.
"It's going to be a huge inconvenience for the people who are there now and for that I am sorry," Berke said. "But in the long run, we;re going to see a truly transformative public space that will be a great asset to our downtown."
Patten Parkway acquired its current name in the 1940s after Z. Cartter Patten, a prominent Chattanooga industrialist and capitalist. Patten came to Chattanooga in 1865 after the Civil War and he and his partner opened a bookstore in the area before he sold his interest in the store and purchased the Chattanooga Times. In 1906, Patten and his son-in-law, John Thomas Lupton, founded the Volunteer State Life Insurance Company.
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