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Staff photo by Mike Pare / A woman walks her dog in front of the former CBR Auto Care site on downtown's Southside. Hotel operator Vision Hospitality bought the property.

Chattanooga-based hotel operator Vision Hospitality Group has bought a key corner in downtown's Southside, where officials are weighing what's next for the high-profile parcel.

Vision, which has 41 hotels including 17 in the Chattanooga area, could put lodging at the Broad and Main streets tract, said Andrew Hibbard, the company's senior vice president of finance and investments.

But the company also built an apartment complex on the North Shore a few years ago, and it's corporate offices are in a mixed-use building at 411 Broad St., he said.

"We're figuring it out," Hibbard said about the use of the 1400 Broad St. parcel. "A hotel is an eventual possibility. But at the same time, it will be driven by the market."

The site for many years held CBR Auto Care, which closed its doors last month when owner George Liner retired.

The property, which sold for $3.25 million, holds an existing building in which one part held the auto repair business and the other was most recently a fitness center.

Also, there's plenty of parking on the land, Hibbard said.

"We're contemplating some interim uses," he said. 'It's a long-term investment."

Company officials noted the location is across Broad from the planned new Food City supermarket. The grocer also is putting up townhouses at the site as part of a more than $15 million project.

Also at one of the corners at Broad and Main is the Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing plant, which over the years has drawn complaints about odors.

"The chicken plant is something we'll consider as we determine future uses of the land," Hibbard said. "It's going to be waiting to see how things play out on the Southside and at that intersection."

In September, a 158-unit apartment building that sits near the Pilgrim's Pride plant sold for $37.5 million to a Virginia firm.

In addition, veteran Chattanooga restaurateur Rob Gentry and brother Clay have purchased a parcel near Broad and Main and recently opened a 185-seat restaurant called Hello Monty.

"We're very bullish on Chattanooga and the Southside," said Rob Gentry, a resident of the area who for many years operated The Blue Plate restaurant and the ROBAR cocktail bar on downtown's waterfront before closing them early in 2021.

Hibbard said that Vision may do minor improvements to the former CBR Auto Care property.

"Because it's a good piece of land, we could do multiple things," he said. "Right now, we're evaluating what are the best uses of those different components. We're very optimistic about it."

Earlier this year, Vision opened the Kinley Chattanooga Southside hotel not far away on Market Street.

Vision Chief Executive Officer Mitch Patel said then the timing was right to open that $14 million, 64-room boutique hotel. Over the past three or four years, more businesses and residents have come to the Southside and it has flourished, he said.

The Kinley was already in the pipeline when the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020. This summer, Vision also opened a seven-story Aloft hotel next to Hamilton Place mall as part of the redevelopment of a former Sears store.

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

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