Letter from the President
For the past 30 years along with many partners and stakeholders River City Company has been focused on building a great downtown. There is a saying “If you build it, they will come.” What 2015 has shown us is, if you build a great downtown, everyone will want to come and be a part of it. This past year will definitely go down as one of the busiest in the downtown real estate market. Not only has quite a bit of real estate changed hands but also new developers and developments are coming to the market.
At the end of the year, projects under construction and in the pipeline consist of over $529 million in private investment in our downtown. This includes over 1800 apartments, 1400 student beds, 526 hotel rooms and 71 single family homes. All of this will go a long way in solving the pent up demand and lack of housing options we have had for many years.
This private investment has a multiplier effect. The public sector is working on plans for new parks, adding to the Tennessee Riverwalk and maximizing open space. New residents will help us recruit needed retail and restaurant options necessary for a live/work city. Redevelopment of empty downtown buildings will bring new life to once empty blocks.
I am constantly asked when quoting these numbers, “Is there really that much demand?” This answer is a resounding YES. Only 3% of our downtown workforce currently lives downtown. This compares to other cities like Charleston or Asheville that have over 10%. UTC only has student housing for 3300 students, yet over 8300 students come from outside Hamilton County. Drawn to our wonderful downtown, Chattanooga is attracting new people every day who want to be right in the middle of it all; living, working and playing.
River City Company continues to play a major role in promoting our city to both out of town developers as well as residents throughout Hamilton County. We couldn’t do our work without the support of downtown stakeholders, foundations and our partners in City and County Government. By working together, we are building on a great foundation for generations to come.
- Kim White, President, River City Company
- Best Outdoor Town - 2015
- 10 Best Bike-Share Programs to Tour Great Cities
- 20 Coolest Towns in the U.S.
- Chattanooga residents have the highest social well-being of the country’s 100 most populous metropolitan areas, according to a Gallup-Healthways report
- UTC Makes List of Best-Values
- Fourth in Best Cities to Start a Business
- USA Today - 10 Best Small Towns with Big Adventures
- Also Featured in New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Southern Living
River City Company is the economic development engine for Downtown Chattanooga. Through its work to cultivate and advocate for a vibrant and healthy Downtown, River City Company stimulates the community’s economic, social and cultural growth.
Chattanooga’s downtown is comprised of several districts: NorthShore, Riverfront, Bluff View, City Center, MLK/UTC, and Southside. Each district is distinctive in its history as well as its market position. Our district by district numbers reveal the breadth and scope of current developments and the 2015 market.
Downtown Chattanooga is comprised of six distinct districts, each with its own unique history and market position.
- 1271 Current Apartments Downtown
- 1888 Apartments in Development or Pre-Development
- 1400 Student Beds
- $524M in Private Investments
- $14M Investment
- 84 Market Rate Apartments
- $79M Investment
- 235 Market Rate Apartments
- 71 Single Family Homes
- 90 Hotel Rooms
- $149M Investment
- 342 Market Rate Apartments
- 475 Hotel Rooms
MLK / UTC
- $183 Investment
- 421 Market Rate Units
- 1400 Beds – Student Housing
- $99M Investment
- 806 Market Rate Apartments
City Center Plan
In the 2013 City Center Plan commissioned for River City Company, 22 properties were identified as potential redevelopment sites.
As of 2015, 11 of these sites are either under construction for housing, hotel, commercial or public use.
- 728 Market — 125 Units
- Chattanooga Bank Building — 122 Hotel Rooms
- Miller Park & Miller Plaza
- Maclellan Building — 90 Units
- First Tennessee Bank — 81 Units
- Mayfield Building — Modern, Open Office Commercial Space
- 8th & Chestnut — The Clemons (55 Units)
- 7th & Cherry — The 701 Building – Modern, Open Office Commercial Space Renovation
- Ross Hotel — Tomorrow Building (39 Units)
- Gold Building — 213 Hotel Rooms
- Patten Parkway
Miller Park District Plan
Stemming from 2013’s City Center Plan, a community-wide multi-million revitalization project is underway for Miller Park and its connection to Miller Plaza and a new look for Patten Parkway. Led by the City of Chattanooga, a large scale community input process was ongoing in 2015 to gather from the community what they would like to see in a revamped Miller Park District. Owning and operating Miller Plaza, River City Company is excited to see the final results and construction of the new park in 2016. This project will bring renewed public space into City Center as many new residents are finding their new homes in Downtown Chattanooga.
- $28 Million Investment
- 125 Apartments
- 1 floor of parking with 65 new spaces connected through the existing garage entrance of the SunTrust Building
- 21,000 square feet of retail
- 21,000 square feet of commercial space
Vine Street Redevelopment
The University of Tennessee Chattanooga broke ground on a state of the art student housing facility in 2015 on Vine Street. While planning for this project, River City Company engaged UTC in a larger visioning process with Unum in 2014 for the Vine Street corridor as both UTC and Unum are major stakeholders and property owners in that area. With this facility and future developments on the horizon for the corridor, Vine Street is poised to be a major connector from UTC to Downtown and vice versa.
- $70 Million Investment
- 600 Beds
- 700-spot, below-ground parking garage
- 231,959 square feet plus 196,163 square feet of parking area
- Three classrooms to be used by the Living and Learning Communities
- A bookstore outlet
- A demonstration kitchen to help students transition to apartment style living; can also be used for catering events
- Open spaces on each wing and floor and throughout the building and on the grounds to encourage a strong sense of community
Built over a century ago and the home to two former hotels and Yesterday’s on Patten Parkway, the Tomorrow Building will be home to the first intentionally designed co-living space in the country slated to open in 2016.
- 39 Micro Units
- Individual housing with common living and innovation spaces
- 28,800 square feet
- Ground floor retail and restaurant space
This year River City Company worked with the city and county on the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) Program for increasing the availability of downtown apartment housing. The PILOT Program was established by the city and county to help attract residential apartment development to downtown and to aid in offsetting the high cost of urban development, with the goals of increasing downtown density, diversity, and vibrancy, and of adding a larger component of affordable housing in downtown. At the request of the city and county and without any compensation, River City Company worked to guide new development applicants through the PILOT application process before the city council and county commission to ensure the applicants would meet all the requirements of the program.
There are 5 development projects approved for the PILOT Program. They will add 626 housing units, 197 of which are affordable as defined by being set aside for those making 80% of Hamilton County Average Median Income.
As Downtown Chattanooga grows, so does the need to fill the newly developed space with residents and businesses.
River City Company provides resources and assistance for people trying to find housing Downtown. By supporting the residential growth of Downtown, River City Company also provides retail initiatives and increased market potential.
Live In Downtown Chattanooga
River City Company developed a website to further support and assist people looking to live in Downtown Chattanooga. Liveindowntownchattanooga.com is an online information and resource tool for apartments and condos in the downtown area.
The site was created based on feedback from the 2013 City Center Planning efforts that included over 600 community members participating in various meetings and focus groups.See for yourself!
MLK Commercial Corridor Grant Program
To attract commercial tenants and support existing business owners, River City Company offered façade, commercial and signage grants in the MLK commercial corridor. In 2015, façade grants totaling $120,000, commercial grants totaling $40,000 and signage grants totaling $70,000 were given to various MLK corridor businesses including The Camp House, Hutton and Smith Brewing Company, Wafflez Factory, ArtsBuild, Causeway, Blue Boys Barber Shop and Beauty Salon, Uncle Larry’s Restaurant, Chatt Smokehouse and more.
Our retail program works to fill in Downtown’s missing gaps with vibrant, quality retailers by cultivating relationships with area brokers, landowners and potential retailers. Below are resources created by River City Company available for download.
The Shop and Eat Guide –
⬇ A Retail Recruitment Brochure
Setting Up Shop Resource Kit –
⬇ A Welcome Guide for New Retailers
Business Resource Guide –
⬇ City Data for Potential Businesses
Square footage of retail to come with scheduled development projects by district:
- City Center: 67,449 sq. ft.
- Northshore: 44,208 sq. ft.
- Southside: 38,477 sq. ft.
- Riverfront: 28,784 sq. ft.
- MLK/UTC: 17,900 sq. ft.
- Total: 196,818 sq. ft. retail
River City Company participates in a number of programs throughout the year in an effort to help make Downtown a vibrant and unique source of culture, activity, and community.
In addition to programming, River City Company also manages Miller Plaza. The plaza has served as a public space since 1988 and is host to numerous events and activities, both public and private all year long.
UTC Takes Over Nightfall
A special Nightfall Friday night in Miller Plaza that focused on welcoming students back to campus, creating excitement for UTC’s first home football game and to celebrate UTC’s presence in Downtown Chattanooga. Many students and Nightfall regulars enjoyed the Mocs spirited night of celebration and the intentional meshing of students with their Downtown.
A week-long celebration of Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial community, Startup Week Chattanooga happened for the second year in October 2015. To capture the richness and diversity of Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Startup Week was organized around three tracks: Tech, Social, and Creative. These three areas represent entrepreneurial strengths to build upon as a startup community.
With over 100 community sourced events that happened around town, River City Company hosted Basecamp in Miller Plaza for the week long event. With high speed WiFi and charging stations from EPB Fiber Optics and a lounge area for games, snacks and other activities, Basecamp was the perfect spot to co-work, relax and network for other Startup Week goers.
Clean & Green
A Downtown cleanup and beautification initiative, Clean and Green 2015 focused on special projects which included graffiti removal and painting on Patten Parkway, an outdoor basketball court restoration project at The Bethlehem Center, a mural at the old St. George Hotel, and painting projects at The Houston Museum.
- Volkswagen Chattanooga
- Chattanooga Downtown Rotary Club
- Chattanooga Choo Choo
Always the third Friday in September, Park(ing) Day is Chattanooga’s opportunity to morph a metered parking spot into an interactive park for a day. This international event is open and free for anyone to participate, and designed to showcase how limited and important public space is in urban areas.
Downtown Chattanooga had 60 parklets in 2015 including piano parklets, ballet and dance showcases, yoga, dart matches, co-working space, choral performances and puppy petting parks.
The first ever Holiday Market in Miller Plaza was held on December 11. The market boasted a lineup of some of downtown’s best retailers and restaurants including Good Fortune Soap & Spa, Revel Pastry Company, Shadowbox, Olive + Estelle, Nooga Paws, The Hot Chocolatier, Fischer Evans Jewelers, Rock/Creek, Community Pie, Taqueria at The Plaza, Tangerinas, and Sophie’s Shoppe
River City Company privately owns and operates Miller Plaza — a city park, stage, and pavilion located in the heart of Downtown Chattanooga’s City Center. The Plaza is a hub for community and public events such as the Nightfall Concert Series and available for private rentals throughout the year. Since 2014, Miller Plaza is also home to the fastest WiFi available Powered by EPB Fiber Optics.
93 Total Events at Miller Plaza in 2015
- 66 Private Events (Proms, Weddings, Galas, Etc.)
- 27 Community & Public Events
Some of the Events that took place this year:
- MLK Mural Community Paint Day
- Dunked by Chattanooga Friends
- Miller Park District Public Input Workshops
- Greater Race by the Community Foundation
- High School Proms
- UTC Galas and Awards Nights
- Press Conferences
Board of Directors
Tom Griscom, Chairman
Consultant and Former Executive Editor & Publisher, Chattanooga Times Free Press
Corky Coker, Vice Chairman
President, Coker Tire Co.
John Giblin, Treasurer
CFO, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
Tim Kelly, Secretary
Owner, Kelly Auto Group
Charlie Arant, Past Chairman
President, Tennessee Aquarium
Dr. Steve Angle
Chancellor, University of Tennessee Chattanooga
Mayor Andy Berke
Mayor, City of Chattanooga
Dr. Carol Berz
District 6 City Councilperson and Chair, Chattanooga City Council
Mayor Jim Coppinger
Mayor, Hamilton County
Founder, SmartFurniture.com, Delegator.com, & PriceWaiter.com
Chief Investment Officer, Unum
CARTA Board President & Attorney, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel
Partner, Alderman Holdings
President, Chattanooga Choo Choo
President & CEO, Vision Hospitality Group, Inc.
Shareholder, Chamliss, Bahner & Stophel
Attorney, Miller & Martin, PLLC
Virginia Anne Sharber
Executive Director, Hunter Museum of American Art
District 7 Commissioner, Hamilton Co. Board of Commissioners
Partner, Lamp Post Group
Partners & Supporters
- Benwood Foundation
- Lyndhurst Foundation
- City of Chattanooga
- Hamilton County Government
- 3H Group Hotels
- Bike Chattanooga
- BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
- Chambliss, Bahner and Stophel, P.C.
- Chattanooga Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
- Chattanooga Gas Company
- Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise
- Chattanooga Presents
- Chattanooga Public Library
- Chattanooga Times Free Press
- Coker Tire
- Cornerstone Bancshares Foundation
- Downtown Council Chamber of Commerce
- EPB of Chattanooga
- First Tennessee Foundation
- Henderson, Hutcherson & McCullough
- Miller & Martin, PLLC
- Outdoor Chattanooga
- Public Art Chattanooga
- Sulzberger Foundation
- SunTrust Foundation
- Tennessee American Water
- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
- Vision Hospitality Group
- Volkswagen Chattanooga
Downtown Beautification Supporters
- CapitalMark Bank & Trust
- Chattanooga Land Company
- Citizens Savings & Loan
- Cohutta Banking Company
- Downtown Council Chamber of Commerce
- Elliott Davis Decosimo, LLC
- First Bank
- First Tennessee Bank
- Fischer Evans Jewelers
- Fletcher Bright Company
- FSG Bank
- Kinsey, Probasco, Hays
- Lamp Post Group
- Lovemans Homeowners Association
- MC Properties
- Southern Realty Company
- Tennessee Aquarium
- Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union
- United Way of Greater Chattanooga