1875 foundry building near Finley Stadium may get new life

1875 foundry building near Finley Stadium may get new life

Planning commission, city council to weigh donating building to preservationists

July 8th, 2017 by Tim Omarzu in Business Diary

Cornerstones Inc., a nonprofit Chattanooga historic preservation group, hopes to find a new use for a brick warehouse built in 1875 that was part of the Ross-Meehan Foundry. It had part of its roof collapse in a recent storm. The city and county may give Cornerstones the building, which is right next to the First Tennessee Pavilion and across the street from Finley Stadium.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The interior of a brick warehouse built in 1875 that was part of the Ross-Meehan Foundry and recently had its roof collapse. Cornerstones Inc., a nonprofit Chattanooga historic preservation group, hopes to find a new use for the building that is right next to the First Tennessee Pavilion.

The interior of a brick warehouse built in...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The nonprofit Chattanooga historic preservation group Cornerstones Inc. should get a good idea next week whether it can help save an old foundry building in a high-profile Southside location.

Cornerstones hopes to find a new use for a brick foundry structure built in 1875 that was part of the former Ross-Meehan Foundry. The building suffered the collapse of part of its roof in a recent storm.

"It probably won't be housing, but it could be a whole range of other things," said Cornerstones President Bob McNutt.

The brick building, which is owned by the city and Hamilton County, is across the street from Finley Stadium and next to the First Tennessee Pavilion, a repurposed foundry structure that's home to the Chattanooga Market, a popular summertime farmer's market.

Cornerstones will find out Monday if the old building, the lot it sits on and an adjacent lot is declared surplus property by the Chattanooga Hamilton-County Regional Planning Agency so it can be donated to Cornerstones. Then, on Tuesday, city council will decide whether to declare the properties as surplus. Then, later this month, the Finley Stadium Corp. board will weigh in.

If those three bodies give the green light, Cornerstones will use a request for proposals to try to find a new owner right away to do a historic preservation of the building.

"We will flip it and hopefully the new owner will have a new use for it and try to put it back on the tax rolls," McNutt said.

If Cornerstones can't find a new owner right away, it will fix up the building itself.

"We'd have to kind of raid our piggy bank," McNutt said. "That's Plan B. I think we can make Plan A work."

The building's location is a big plus, he said.

"Within three blocks of the stadium, there's almost 700 new units of housing going up. They're not on the drawing block. They're going up," McNutt said. "Those sidewalks around the stadium are going to fill up real quick with people."

The idea of saving the old building is exciting to Arch Willingham, a Cornerstones board member and president of T.U. Parks Construction Co., which has restored historic structures downtown including the Fleetwood Building at East 11th and King streets.

"It's so cool. I love it," Willingham said of the old, brick foundry building.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu @timesfreepress.com or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or on Twitter @meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.


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