published Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Plan unveiled for blighted Market Street block

A stretch of Market Street’s 700 block sits vacant.
A stretch of Market Street’s 700 block sits vacant.
Photo by Alex Washburn.
Can the 700 block downtown be saved?

The troubled 700 block of Market Street currently features a gaping hole in the ground as its centerpiece, the result of a failed development that has been tied up in years of litigation.

"As you're going down Market, you have all the beautiful buildings, then there's nothing," said Craig Peavy, architect for River Street Architecture.

But if a $19 million plan unveiled Thursday sees the light of day, the site could soon feature a new grocery store, a rooftop restaurant and apartments.

The plan, offered as part of River City Co.'s Urban Design Challenge, vaguely resembles Jack's Alley "by creating a large amount of surface area," said planner Christian Rushing, who advised the designers.

New site maps use the block's existing alleys to create a cross-shaped pedestrian junction in the middle of the block, lined by a multi-layered stack of apartments, stores and restaurants.

By removing a former Cooper Office Supply building on the north end of the block, the proposal creates uninterrupted pedestrian access for several more blocks, north and south.

"We want to re-energize the conversation about what's possible with planning and design," said Kim White, head of River City Co.

The contest paired developers such as Mitch Patel with architects such as Peavy and David Barlew to allow for creativity, while keeping contestants grounded in financial reality.

Patel, who owns and operates a number of upscale hotels in the area, predicted that the project could actually bring in several hundred thousand dollars in profit in the first year.

In addition to a grocery store and a "mid-block arcade," the budget also allows for what designers are calling "green screens," or towering columns filled with climbing vines fed by storm water, as well as a terraced garden.

"The leaves keep the UV rays from heating up the building," Barlew said, and also provide a screen between residents and shoppers.

In what could be a controversial choice, the plan adds no parking, though site designers defended the decision.

A number of nearby lots and a municipal garage with two floors that are "95 percent empty" would provide the majority of residents and visitors' parking needs, Peavy said.

"This is no different than any other urban center in our country," he added.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, who applauded the design, said that for the project to succeed it must return to "friendly hands" from Trey Stanley, who has been unable to develop the site over the six years in which he has owned the property. River City Co. has sued Stanley to reclaim the property and a trial on the land dispute is set for Hamilton County Chancery Court in January.

"The city, River City and others struggled to assemble that land, and of course the developer has it now was not able to go forward with his development," Littlefield said. "Once it's back in friendly hands, it'll be easier to work with it."

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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chattyjill said...

I hope it is a regular grocery store, not anything that pitches itself as upscale or gourmet. So no Fresh Market or the ilk. How will trucks make deliveries to this location?

September 2, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
drosener said...

@chattyjill, the same way they do everywhere else downtown: stop in the middle of the street and force everyone else to drive around them.

September 2, 2011 at 11:01 a.m.
NoMyth said...

The city needs to approve higher tax rates for undeveloped or vacant downtown is the only thing that will prod the fat cat owners to do something with the property...develop it or sell it. As it stands now, they pay nearly no tax and the citizens must deal with the blight. Look at another lot on Market Street...right across from the Aquarium. Ridiculous.

September 2, 2011 at 12:29 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Yes, let's force people to sale their property whether they want to or not. If they don't want to sell it, let's use government guns to make them sell it.

Amerika, Amerika,

What has become of thee?

Let's force the folks

To wear the yokes

And call it Liberty!

September 2, 2011 at 1:44 p.m.
NoMyth said...

@harrystatel. I usually agree with you, but not in this case. There are many fat cats in Chattanooga that benefit from the current system at the expense of many others. An alternative to increasing taxes on vacant lots would be to require the property owners to make the property safe and aesthetically appealing. Having 20 foot holes in the ground for seven years on the main street through a major city does not happen anywhere except in Chattanooga. Time for new management, new ideas, and no more favors for fat cats that sit on property for decades until they need to unload it during a boom when they decide to buy a new yacht.

September 2, 2011 at 3:03 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Who is a fat cat? Why should a fat cat be subject to arbitrary force?

The government might declare you to be a fat cat. Would it be alright if they raise your taxes, or force you to sell?

Libertarianism is a consistent premise. No force or threat of force may morally be used against another except in self-defense.

If you declare someone a fat cat today, you might be the fat cat tomorrow.

September 2, 2011 at 4:58 p.m.
harrystatel said...

In this case, however, the 700 Block fiasco is the result of government interference in the free market. Littlefield and cronies used taxpayers money to float the deal, inflating prices, handing it off to developers in hopes of paying back political favors, again with taxpayer's money.

Now Littlefield pleads for the property to return to "friendly hands", to the River City Company, another quasi-government agency. The same River City Company Littlefield railed against when running for mayor.

Littlefield likes "friendly hands," like those that paid $700,000.00 for a toxic dump site, the old Farmer's Market. Like the "friendly hands " that sold the property to the City, thanks to the "friendly hands" of the Chattanooga City Council.

So the next time you hear the term "friendly hands," hold on to your wallet and break a couple of fingers of those pickpockets.

September 2, 2011 at 5:21 p.m.
CharlesMartel said...

Harry Statel, first let me say that I do not support a quasi-government entity like River City developing this property.

Second, the government guarantees the right to own vacant, fallow land. If we're going to have the right to own land, then with that comes responsibilities. This has been a fact of life since before government. Only today, with the advent of republican forms of government, and at it's greatest extent in America, can people sit back on vacant, valuable land and do absolutely nothing with it, because of extraordinarily low taxes on land value.

Land: use it or lose it.

September 2, 2011 at 6:54 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Again, who determines the use for that land? You don't like the way the land is being used? Buy it.

Perhaps I don't like the way you use your land. Do I get to tell you that my claim is higher that your right of ownership?

People like exceptions to property rights until it affects them.

September 2, 2011 at 7:29 p.m.
CharlesMartel said...

Perhaps I don't like the way you use your land. Do I get to tell you that my claim is higher that your right of ownership?

If I can't pay my taxes (i.e., rent) then yes. You see, the problem with your "Neo-Classical" economics is that it treats Land as the same as Capital. The problem is that Land is a unique factor of production. Capital is drawn from mixing Land with Labour. Land is exists independent of Labour and Capital.

As for the use of the Land, that should be determined by the owner.

In the best of worlds, the entire land is owned by a single individual. Yes, I am a feudalist.

September 2, 2011 at 7:38 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Feudalism works great if you're the State or the Church (typically Catholic, though Protestants have their great moments of shame as well).

The State commands your body and the Church commands your soul.

I'm not sure which is the most corrupt throughout the last 2000 years, the State or the Church.When you combine them you truly have hell on earth.

Both are despotic.

September 2, 2011 at 7:55 p.m.
CharlesMartel said...

Ah, when the two are combined you have the Kingdom of God on Earth!

There was never a more perfect time than aD 801, under the glorious reign of Charlemagne!

Of course, being a Liberal America, you would disagree, Harry Statel...

September 2, 2011 at 7:58 p.m.
harrystatel said...

No, I'm a libertarian. But you're still living in the Dark Ages.

That Kingdom of God on Earth didn't work out too well for Jews, Native Americans, Mayans, heretics, free thinkers, victims of the Spanish Inquisition, the list is too long to name those tortured and killed by the Church for the "Great Glory of God."

Let's not forget the Nazis' favorite Pope, Pius XII.

So I'm not surprised by your answer.

September 2, 2011 at 8:11 p.m.
CharlesMartel said...

Libertarian are Liberals. Quit trying to delude yourself.

As for the Mayans, etc., bringing them the holy Faith did work out great for them. It saved their eternal souls, well, those of them that came to believe. As for the Jews, the Inquisition never threatened them. The Inquisition only had jurisdiction over baptized persons. You know a lot less about history than you think you do. Your assessment of Pope Pius XII shows that quite well.

In a better time, "free thinkers" like you would not be public, and unable to infect others with your heresy.

Liberals like you make me sick.

Anyway, with rights come duties, and land ownership is a right, and with it comes duties. Putting it to productive use is the duty of the owner.

September 2, 2011 at 8:27 p.m.
harrystatel said...

It's nice to see that there's still people that can make Jimmy Swaggart look intellectual.

No one can claim the fundamentalist Christians are the only crazies. There's Charles Martel.

After your last response, I rest my case.

Here's my prayer tonight. "God, protect me from your "True Believers."

September 2, 2011 at 8:34 p.m.
CharlesMartel said...

Harry Statel is yet another American that can't handle real conservatism, i.e., counterrevolution.

All Liberals, the lot of you. From the weirdo Glenn Beck to the Protestant Ron Paul.

September 2, 2011 at 8:42 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

I've driven past that vacant block a hundred times and never thought twice about it. Mayor Littlefield's use of the word "friendly", however, worries me. We haven't seen anything good come from him.

September 2, 2011 at 11:09 p.m.
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