Chattanooga is planning to spend about $1 million to create an enhanced five-block connector for pedestrians and cyclists to better link Howard School and Broad Street.
The new work will provide a full makeover to the edges of West 26th Street, which cuts through the heart of the South Broad District, offering a 12-foot sidewalk on one side of the road along with landscaping, lighting and other perks.
"It will transform the corridor," said Blythe Bailey, who heads the Chattanooga Department of Transportation. "It's a pretty major project."
Bailey said the makeover was envisioned in the South Broad District Plan which the city approved last year. The plan by the Chattanooga Design Studio foresees an array of new housing along with commercial and retail space, upgraded parks, streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure, including a new minor league ballpark and entertainment facility to serve as a catalyst for development.
Bailey said that creating more usable streets will bolster nearby property owners.
"Streets are fundamental for neighborhoods and housing," he said. "We hope the investment in the street would come with investment in neighborhood building there."
Ann Weeks, who is the South Broad Redevelopment Group's president-emeritus, said the work will help pull Howard School, which is located on Market Street, into the center of the neighborhood.
"It shows the students in the school that the city cares about them," she said. "And it shows the neighborhood that the city cares about them."
Weeks added that the effort may help development in the area that bounded by Interstate-24, Wheland/U.S. Pipe foundry land, Howard and Chattanooga Creek.
Mike Mallen, whose group owns the 141-acre foundry site, said the city work and plans by the state to remake the I-24 interchanges in the area are key.
He particularly mentioned a planned exit from I-24 that would permit motorists from the west to empty onto Broad Street in the area.
"The timing is perfect for the city to step in along with the TDOT investment," Mallen said.
He said the foundry group continues to search for a master developer to oversee work on that property.
Bailey said that construction on the West 26th Street improvements should start in November and take about six months to complete. He said the funding was included in the fiscal year 2019 budget.
He said that where the improvements will terminate on Broad Street is only a couple blocks away from a trailhead to the Tennessee Riverwalk on the foundry property.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.
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