We’ve come a long way in 25 years
Many may know me. Many more don’t. I moved to Chattanooga from New York City in 1995. Chattanooga was quite a different place a short 25 years ago. The Tennessee Aquarium had just been built, and the great spot for dinner and a beer was the Big River Grille. When it first opened it was half as large as it is today. There was Mom’s Italian Pizza and Porkers Barbeque in the location where Kenny’s now is. There was the Mudpie Coffee house on Frazier. There was the Sand Bar (‘miss the Sand Bar!) and, later, Rhythm and Brews. Also, the Brass Register. That’s about the most I can remember. I bought a house on Tremont Street for $10,000. Really.
Times have changed.
Michelle and I saw the Pop Up Project perform “If These Walls Could Talk” last Friday night at Mill Town. For those of you who may have missed that, well, I’m sorry. It was excellent. Full stop. The thing that kept repeating in my head is “is this Chattanooga?” This was far too Avant Garde for a town that just 25 years ago had but a few decent restaurants and a couple of bars. I kept thinking that we’ve sure come a long way.
The old Mill is surrounded by dozens of upscale town homes. I hate to even admit it, but it looks pretty great. I think it’s easy to dis on new development. It’s a Chattanooga badge of honor I think. But this project really deserves accolades for its vision. It will become a destination in the coming years, just you watch.
It wasn’t long ago when I remember the first house selling for a million dollars in Chattanooga. It was in Riverview. We now have a dozen or so homes that are for sale at over a million dollars. That really didn’t take long! I am surprised, but also, not surprised. Chattanooga is really a great city. And it sits between two of the fastest growing cities in the country: Nashville and Atlanta, both of which have become perhaps too big. Why not Chattanooga?
There are hundreds of new townhomes planned for the re discovered Southside/South Board districts. Maybe since I am not a native Chattanoogan, I don’t feel compelled to bad mouth new developments. I support population density! The more people living in downtown, the more business grows up around that. I grew tired of the five acre yards and urban sprawl a while ago. That seems so….1990’s! From the many planning charettes I’ve attended over the years, there’s one theme that I think many people prefer about mid-sized cities, and that is “walkability”. That only happens if there’s somewhere to walk to. So I am cheering on the building trend right now in Chattanooga. More people = more restaurants, more music venues, stores, art galleries, coffee shops, tailors, theaters…etc.
I just hope Chattanooga rises up to the challenge of truly becoming the city it purports to be. We’re headed that way.