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Contributed photo / The historic Signal Mill building on Chattanooga's North Shore was purchased by an Atlanta investment group.

An Atlanta-based real estate investment company says it's "planting our flag" in downtown Chattanooga with the $13.5 million purchase of a restored 104-year-old former textile mill.

Coro Realty bought the historic Signal Mill building and nearly 3 acres on Manufacturers Road on the North Shore, seeing the building as a long-term investment, said Robert Fransen, the company's president. 

Covenant Transport Solutions, a freight brokerage business that's part of Covenant Transportation Group, is a major tenant in Signal Mill. Food Works, Genevieve Bond Gifts, Edley's Bar-B-Que, Mean Mug Coffee and Pigtails & Crewcuts are others.

Fransen said the company had earlier tried to buy the adjacent center anchored by Whole Foods, but wasn't successful.

"We have had our eye on Signal Mill since we tried several years ago to purchase the adjacent Whole Foods," Fransen said. "We were unsuccessful in that purchase, but have been attracted to the North Shore ever since."

In 2016, Pennsylvania-based Fairway Investments bought 2 North Shore for $24 million.

The 44,764-square-foot Signal Mill dates back to 1916 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The two-story brick building at 205 Manufacturers Road was originally used for making clothing for more than seven decades before closing in 1986.

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“We were attracted to the area’s dynamic mix of walkability, growing residential base, convenient access to downtown and historic character.” — Robert Fransen of Coro Realty

The Woodbery Group, another Atlanta company, bought the former mill property in 2016 and renovated it, adding upgrades while leaving the historic exterior intact. Retail and restaurants occupy the first floor and office space is located on the second.

Woodbery Group purchased the former antiques mall then called the Knitting Mill for $3.55 million nearly four years ago. It said then that it would spend $8 million to upgrade the site.

David Woodbery, president of The Woodbery Group, said he's unsure how much was finally spent, though the building is fully leased.

"We'd gotten a lot good feedback from the public and it had been well received," he said.

Woodbery said he's looking at a buying a couple of other downtown Chattanooga locations.

"The demographics of today's workers are that they want to be walkable from work so they don't have to commute," he said. "That's what this core area brings to the Chattanooga's market."

Fransen said they were attracted to the area's dynamic mix of walkability, growing residential base, convenient access to downtown and historic character.

"It is an area on the rise, and we hope to be a long-term part of that rise," he said. 

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

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