published Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Vital 700 block of Market

Soon after 1838, when "Ross's Landing" became "Chattanooga," the city spread from the Tennessee River westward and "7th and Market" streets became the busy center of downtown.

So it's good news that River City Co. is seeking proposals for new development on the 700 block of Market Street.

While Chattanooga's waterfront was transformer into a tourist attraction, its downtown neighborhoods have been revitalized and new businesses and industry have settled here, much of the 700 block of Market Street has steadily declined.

A section of it has sat vacant, overgrown and unsightly for years. River City hopes to improve the block, along with its 30,000-square-foot Broad Street property next to the Majestic 12, which is now a parking lot. The Urban Design Challenge offered prizes for architects to create potential projects for the properties.

Now, River City is asking developers to propose their ideas for the two sites.

Bids are due by May 28 and construction of the winning bid could begin by mid-2013.

River City hopes proposals for the 700 block include residential units, stores, restaurants, entertainment venues and some green space. Officials also hope to see a parking lot on the site.

So we will watch with much interest as dreamers and practical enterprisers explore the possibilities for improving this block in the heart of our city.

We await the final result with great enthusiasm.

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nucanuck said...

The 700 block is not a good or natural fit for housing or retail. Retail needs synergy and the potential just isn't there. The office market is weak with the glut of empty former Blue Cross buildings nearby.

The timing for this block's redevelopment seems unlikely in this economic environment. A transitional idea might be to use the area as green space until the right user can be found. Trees, grass, and some walkways could turn an eyesore into an asset rather than leaving an open sore in the middle of town.

April 14, 2012 at 12:45 a.m.
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