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Staff photo by Mike Pare / People walk by the century-old Lovemans building at Market and Eighth streets on Thursday.
"We reached a deal that works for me and them." — Matt McGauley about the purchase of Lovemans second floor

Lamp Post Properties has sold its second-floor space in downtown Chattanooga's Lovemans building where a decade ago a group of local business leaders unveiled an innovative incubator for startups.

Chattanooga real estate developer Matt McGauley said Thursday he has purchased the Lamp Post space at the historic Market and Eighth streets building for $3.1 million.

Also, he said, he's buying one other space on the second level, which will give him the entire 34,000-square-foot floor.

McGauley said he recently sold his McConnell Building space nearby and needed to relocate his offices.

"Lamp Post was selling their holdings on the second floor of the Lovemans building," he said. "We reached a deal that works for me and them."

Lamp Post Group's leaders, Ted Alling, Allan Davis and Barry Large, made their fortune through Access America, a logistics company they founded in 2002 in Chattanooga. They grew that business to some 500 employees and $600 million in revenue and then sold it in 2014 to Chicago-based Coyote Transport for an undisclosed amount.

Lamp Post Group has used the Lovemans space to incubate a variety of business startups, including in the key logistics sector. But as those companies grew, many needed dedicated offices of their own. Around 2015, Lamp Post Group invested in Lamp Post Properties to serve that need.

Tiffanie Robinson, president of Lamp Post Properties, said that nothing is changing in terms of the group's commitment to Chattanooga and downtown.

She said the company still owns six other properties downtown.

"There's no intention of making any changes," Robinson said.

She said Lamp Post has owned the Lovemans space for 10 years and McGauley made "a great offer," adding that he owns other property in the city's Innovation District.

McGauley said the second floor at Lovemans is fully leased and he intends to keep existing tenants including Lamp Post, Dynamo, Reliance Partners, VaynerMedia and others.

Lamp Post Group is a venture incubator that provides capital and mentorship to growing start-up businesses. It offers a full complement of support services, including legal, accounting, human resources, recruiting, and downtown office space.

Among companies it has invested in and mentored include Bellhops, Fancy Rhino, Steam Logistics and Reliance Partners.

The Innovation District was created in 2015 at the urging of Mayor Andy Berke and encompasses 140 acres in the heart of the city center and has drawn global attention. The aim was to develop a place where entrepreneurs, tech-based startups, and business incubators can mesh and create a so-called innovation ecosystem.

The Edney Building at Market and East 11th streets was renovated and turned into a hub for the district in the effort to grow the city's knowledge economy.

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

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