After years of delays, demolition work is starting on the former Chattanooga Bank Building downtown as a developer plans to turn the iconic high-rise into a boutique hotel.
The $35 million project at Broad and Eighth streets will re-fashion the 92-year-old vacant tower into a 144-unit independently branded hotel, according to Biloxi, Mississippi-based Lodging and Leisure Investments.
"It's a beautiful building — well known," said company Vice President Cono Caranna, adding that plans are to keep the 10-story structure's historical exterior. "No need to mess with that."
To be called The Hotel Legends, the refurbished building is expected to open in early 2021, he said.
Kim White, who heads the nonprofit downtown redevelopment group River City Co., said that redoing the building is the last big project left in 2015's city center plan.
ABOUT THE BUILDING
Originally built to house Chattanooga Savings Bank in 1927, the structure was modified in 1929 when that business was absorbed by First National Bank. It held many dental and medical offices over the years, as well as TVA. While the bank has long since closed, the building’s remaining tenants were asked to leave in 2009 when a Crowne Plaza hotel and condos were planned but never built.
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"We're thrilled," White said. "That's huge for downtown and that Eighth Street corridor."
Heidi Hefferlin of Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects said that the building constructed to house Chattanooga Savings Bank in 1927 is a key component of the central business district.
"We're very excited for it to move forward," she said.
The site of the new Hotel Legends has previously housed dental, medical, retail and Tennessee Valley Authority offices since its original owner, Chattanooga Savings Bank, was absorbed by First National Bank. The structure has been largely vacant for the past decade.
A Crowne Plaza was planned in 2009 and later an Aloft Hotel, but the projects never got off the ground.
The newest hotel plan is the latest in a string of downtown hotels added in Chattanooga's central city.
Caranna said his hotel group is partnering with Virginia businessman Robert Lubin, who has held it for the past five years.
The Mississippi developer said his group will be the contractor in the project and manage the hotel. He said Lodging and Leisure Investments has hotels and entertainment sites in Mississippi and projects in Pensacola Beach, Florida, and Kansas City.
White said the hotel will offer valet parking on Market Street for guests. Also, plans are for a restaurant in the hotel, she said.
The work comes even as other hotels have recently opened and more are planned in the central city.
The former Clemons Lofts apartments at Chestnut and 8th streets has been converted into the Bode Hotel, which when fully developed will include 54 units.
Also, nearly across Market Street, one of the biggest apartment complexes in the central city is converting about half of its rental units into overnight or longer-term travel apartments under the Stay Alfred brand.
In addition, work is underway to convert The 300 apartment building at Pine and Sixth streets into a Hotel Indigo.
The Moxy hotel, a 108-room property at Market and King streets, opened last year.
The Edwin, a 90-room hotel at the Walnut Street Bridge, also opened in 2018.
The 260-room Westin hotel at Pine Street and M.L. King Boulevard debuted in late 2017.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.