New Chattanooga Lookouts stadium will boost ‘live-work-play’ neighborhood, developer says

March 13 – A Nashville developer eyeing $150 million in residential and commercial space next to a proposed new Chattanooga Lookouts stadium says “the stars are aligning” for a live-work-play neighborhood.

Mark Deutschmann, chief executive of Core Development, said Friday the company plans to build 400 to 500 homes and up to 20,000 square feet of neighborhood-scale commercial space on 11 acres on the Wheland Foundry/ U.S. Pipe.

Additionally, Core is in discussions with others about creating a 35-acre public park near the smelter site, he said. The vision for the park would be the product of a comprehensive community consultation process, Deutschmann said.

“Opportunities like this rarely arise and require focus, collaborative leadership and vision to be fully realized,” he said in an email.

But Deutschmann added that building a high-quality, 18-hour-a-day neighborhood in the South Broad district is difficult without the proposed $86.5 million multi-purpose stadium or some other catalyst.

“The site has great potential given its location and improved freeway access,” he said of the 141-acre plot.

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger see the stadium, with the minor league baseball team as the primary user, as the centerpiece of a potential new development of a billion dollars.

Officials have requested $20.8 million in public funds for the stadium, $13.5 million in direct appropriation as well as $7.3 million for environmental remediation, though some lawmakers have raised concerns. questions on the request. The proposed stadium should contain between 7,000 and 10,000 seats.

Deutschmann said the mostly vacant smelter plot could be Chattanooga’s last “urban circular neighborhood” or a development around the city’s downtown area.

The stadium would dramatically accelerate the pace and quality of development in the neighborhood, he said. This would create “commercial viability, residential density, housing affordability and result in more efficient use of Chattanooga’s limited and valuable urban lands,” the developer said.

He said he saw such development happening in Nashville around the 10,000-seat minor league baseball stadium, which was built in 2015 for the Sounds. It also takes place around the Nashville SC football stadium, Deutschmann said.

“This impact is not just economic in nature,” he said. “If done correctly, it will have a lasting impact on quality of life, creating strong and vibrant neighborhoods with great commercial and retail space.”

Absent a stadium or other catalyst, new construction in the South Broad district will likely be low-density, surface-parked residences with limited commercial space, Deutschmann said.

“The proposed stadium is a differentiator as it dramatically intensifies development, diversifies the types of real estate products and reduces the time required to produce a high-quality mixed-use development,” he said.

Core has played an important role in revitalizing Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood, home of Sounds Stadium, Deutschmann said.

“The investment in Sounds Stadium has resulted in the transformation of stagnant light industrial land into a vibrant mix of office, retail and residential development that is now woven into the surrounding neighborhood,” he said.

Core, which calls itself a boutique retail development company, is focused on neighborhood-scale, mixed-use urban infill, Deutschmann said. He said Core “has been at the forefront of Nashville’s urban renaissance for nearly 20 years.”

Deutschmann said two of Core’s founding partners and its chief financial officer were born and raised in Chattanooga.

“Core is actively pursuing trail-oriented development opportunities and is intrigued by public and private investment in the Riverwalk, public infrastructure and the relocation of Lookouts Stadium to the site,” he said.

According to a proposal from Chattanooga and county leaders to the state, public money and tax revenue would pay for nearly two-thirds of the proposed stadium — not including the state’s $7.3 million for the environmental cleanup of The area.

While the proposal calls for the state’s contribution of $13.5 million, it also calls for the use of state and local sales tax revenue totaling $15.6 million, additional property tax revenue of $19 $.4 million from planned adjoining development and city and county non-property tax revenue of $8.4 million in a 50/50 split, the numbers show.

Meanwhile, the private money includes lease payments by the Lookouts of $19.6 million and $10 million in foundry land for the stadium.

But some lawmakers said a few weeks ago they were hesitant to support the one-time $20.8 million request or a bill allowing sales tax revenues to be used to help repay about $63 million. dollars in 30-year bonds for construction.

State Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, said he wants to see more information he feels is relevant to the requests.

“And I will not move forward on this bill or this project until I am satisfied that it is in the interest of the taxpayers,” he told a Senate subcommittee meeting. finances.

House Finance Committee Chair Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, said the state has already invested $35 million in ongoing work to redo Interstate 24 interchanges near the site of the foundry.

“I think we were told, ‘Give us the interchange and development will follow.’ So we’ve already given the office my perspective on that,” she said in an interview. “I think that’s a tough sell for extra stadium dollars, for me.”

But state Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, said in a phone interview that he supports the stadium’s effort.

“I’d like to see the project finished, but the reality is we’re going to have to look at the numbers, see what’s being asked of the state and if it’s doable,” he said. “I think it would be a real asset to the community if we could move forward.”

The Lookouts currently play at AT&T Field, a 6,340-seat facility near the river that has been home to the franchise since 2000.

In October 2020, Major League Baseball announced that it would take over minor league operations. The change, baseball officials said, turned the preference for a new Lookouts stadium into a requirement if professional baseball is to stay in Chattanooga because AT&T Field lacks the amenities needed for today’s players while they move up the development ladder.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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