When David Paschall and partners joined to form the Transparency Health investment fund in Chattanooga that focuses on health care technology companies, they knew they were doing something "unique in the space."
But the physical space where they've located their offices is in the Fleetwood Building, a 100-year-old renovated structure where coffee was roasted for decades that hearkens back to Chattanooga's rich manufacturing past.
"To be a part of this building is a blessing," says Paschall about the red-brick bastion at East 11th and King streets that was repurposed in a more than $10 million project by Noon Development.
As downtown and its neighboring areas continue to be redeveloped, more and more former manufacturing buildings are finding new uses, not only as job sites but as housing and retail locations.
The leasing agent for the Fleetwood and a variety of other Chattanooga buildings undergoing repurposing for new tenants is Second Story Real Estate Management. It takes its name from the idea that the uses and stories of buildings change and often take on second and third lives with new tenants and owners.
One of the early adopters of so-called adaptive reuse downtown was Hamilton County government, which took a former 3M manufacturing site and remade it into a 125,000-square-foot small business incubator about three decades ago. The 88-year-old structure at Cherokee Boulevard and Manufacturers Road, which last received a $5 million refurbishing seven years ago, has graduated more than 500 small businesses. The facility is the third largest incubator in the country, according to the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, which manages the incubator.
One of the newest plans for remaking a longtime manufacturing site involves the former Alstom plant on Riverfront Parkway. Buyer West End Property LLC plans a 10- to 15-year reuse of the 112-acre site, keeping one manufacturing plant while redeveloping another and the area around it into light industrial, residential, retail, office and recreational offerings.
Chattanooga real estate investor Jimmy White, who with local hotelier Hiren Desai recently bought the property for $30 million from GE Power, says the mixed-use project will create hundreds of new jobs and provide additional connections to the Tennessee River.
"We envision a development that will be internationally recognized for its innovative approach and greatly enhance Chattanooga's reputation as a top midsize city," White says. "The development of this site is important to Chattanooga's long-term growth."
He says the group is "eager to have industry return and good-paying jobs, while adding live, work and play options."
Plans are to extend Main Street through the site all the way to the Tennessee River, such as what's planned for nearby M.L. King Boulevard, which will border the Alstom property. A Main Street extension will help create more ties to the Tennessee Riverwalk, which crosses the Alstom property, officials say.
On Chattanooga's rapidly expanding North Shore, a historic former knitting mill was redeveloped into a mixed-use site in a $10 million project. Signal Mill, a century-old, 20,000-square-foot structure, has come to hold retail space and a restaurant.
David Woodbery, president of Signal Mill developer The Woodbery Group in Atlanta, says he was happy with the way the project has turned out.
"It's been well received by the market," he says.
On the other side of downtown, a Southside building constructed as cold storage more than a century ago is undergoing a makeover. Also carried out by White's group, King Street Station will hold new eateries, a brewery, offices and potentially condominiums. Located near Market and King streets, the six-story brick structure is adjacent to the planned Moxy boutique hotel. Together, the two projects mean a $30 million investment in the area, White says.
More than 80 windows are opening up the building which had only held a few before the revamp began. The eateries, brewery and office space is slated to open in the fall along with the Moxy.
One of the most wide-ranging makovers of former industrial space could involve the 141-acre U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry sites in the South Broad District just outside downtown.
A new plan has suggested a multi-use sports and entertainment facility for the foundry parcel which could house the Chattanooga Lookouts minor league baseball club. The plan foresees an array of new housing along with commercial and retail space, upgraded parks, streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure, including the new ballpark and entertainment facility to serve as a catalyst for development.
"If you get a sports facility, it brings development along with it," says Mike Mallen, a part of the land's ownership group.
Contact staff writer Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.