published Friday, March 7th, 2014

Run-down retail center being converted to shopping destination

Miller-Motte college moving to new center

  • photo
    This rendering by Franklin Architects shows what Lee Pointe could look like after it is redeveloped by Pointe Property Group.
    Illustration by Contributed Photo.

  • photo
    The old Sam's Warehouse on Lee Highway was purchased by a development group.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
    enlarge photo

A group of local developers plan to upgrade, renovate and revitalize the run down 18-acre shopping center at the highly visible corner of Lee Highway and Highway 153 in Chattanooga.

Hal Development, with managing partner Pointe Property Group, hope to spruce up the mostly vacant center on the north side of the intersection with a new entry, sidewalks, trees and landscaping. The developers are also building a brand new three-story office building that will host Miller-Motte Technical College.

The college is currently located on Shallowford Road, but campus director June Kearns said the move will allow the school to more easily add new programs as demand shifts. The campus averages about 450 students and includes around 60 professors, and will actually be downsizing through the move, with 8,000 fewer square feet in the new building.

"But we're going to maximize efficiency," Kearns said. "It gives us the opportunity to build from the ground up and custom design how we want the facility to look."

She expects to hold the first classes in the new building in January 2015.

And if the developers' plans come together, Miller-Motte won't be the only tenant moving into the rejuvenated plaza. Ryan Allen, vice president of Pointe Property Group, said he expects to lease to another 10 tenants after the main buildings are renovated or demolished and rebuilt.

The site's largest building will be reconfigured into about 70,000 square feet of retail space, and smaller spaces will also be created for small shops, offices and restaurants. The group expects to sell three out parcels, which could host casual dining restaurants, Allen said.

He expects construction to be finished by late fall 2014. No other tenants have yet signed on with the property, but Allen believes the high-traffic site can become a regional hub.

"It's poised to serve the greater Chattanooga community," he said. "It'll serve definitely the local pocket of business, but it's also situated to serve the greater area. That's what made it appealing."

The site is about two miles from Hamilton Place Mall and was originally built as a Sam's Warehouse by Walmart.

The new owners plan to use sustainable building techniques in their building renovation and will create bio retention cells filled with coarse sand and peat to control water runoff.

"We'll break up that big expanse of asphalt," Allen said.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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