CHATTANOOGA, TENN. â€“ Since Downtown Chattanooga's Bijou Theatre closed in 2009, the highâ€visibility Broad Street building has remained mostly vacant. Through the years many rumors have circulated about the future use of the first floor of the CARTA parking garage and shuttle depot, which has been partially occupied by the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau since 2010. Today, River City Company, which manages the building, put rumors to rest and unveiled plans to renovate the space and reanimate the city block in the heart of the Riverfront District.
â€œWe're very excited about this new development and the impact it will have on tourism,â€ said Bob Doak, president and chief executive officer of the Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau. â€œAs far as our Visitors Center, we knew coming into this space that it was a temporary location. We're currently exploring multiple possibilities for a permanent home that will best serve our visitors.â€
In front of a crowd of onlookers, River City Company unfurled a 100â€foot banner from atop the parking garage revealing that the city block bordered by Second and Third street to the North and South and Broad and Chestnut streets to the East and West will now be known as THE BLOCK. Renovations of THE BLOCK will rejuvenate the exterior street presence with new storefronts, entrances, canopies around the perimeter, streetscape amenities and a renovated CARTA shuttle breezeway.
The allâ€new repurposed interior will house Rock/Creek and High Point Climbing and Fitness, with two remaining retail spaces available for lease. The total cost of renovations is estimated at $1.5 million, with construction beginning January 2013. Rock/Creek and High Point will open in summer 2013. For more renderings and information see the Rock/Creek Chronicle at blog.rockcreek.com.
THE BLOCK redevelopment is a perfect marriage of River City's live, work, play downtown mission and the creative entrepreneurship of Chattanoogans that continue to breathe new life into downtown.â€
Local entrepreneur Dawson Wheeler and his partner Marvin Webb have grown Rock/Creek, a Chattanoogaâ€based specialty outdoor retailer, from one brickâ€andâ€mortar store to a fourâ€store and online retail business that is recognized as one of the best in the outdoor recreation industry. Rock/Creek will open a 3,800 square foot flagship location on THE BLOCK that will feature outdoor apparel and equipment from top brands for a host of sports including kayaking, rock climbing, camping, hiking, trail running and adventure racing.
â€œTHE BLOCK redevelopment concept and complimentary mix of tenants is authentic to Chattanooga's signature outdoor lifestyle,â€ said Wheeler. â€œThis location will complement the other four retail locations in this region and allow us to extend our reach to the millions of residents and visitors who enjoy downtown amenities.â€
High Point Climbing and Fitness will occupy 16,490 sq. ft. and will feature indoor rock climbing walls and bouldering, a fitness center and pro shop. The business will offer equipment rental, lessons and coaching, youth programs, competitions and more.
â€œOver the past 20 years, Chattanooga's downtown has become a mecca for residents and tourists alike,â€ said Allen Corey, president and CEO of CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, Inc. and River City Company board member. â€œAnd just when we think â€” and Outdoor Magazine readers confirm â€” that we're the â€˜Best Town Ever,' we find a ways like this to top even that.â€
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Rock/Creek is an independent specialty outdoor retailer based in Chattanooga, Tennessee with over 20 years of brick and mortar experience. With a dedicated staff of outdoor enthusiasts and gear experts, Rock/Creek offers only the very best outdoor apparel and equipment from top brands like Patagonia, Salomon, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear and The North Face to ensure that customers are comfortable and safe in the outdoors.
About River City Company
River City Company was created in 1986 to serve as the catalytic organization focused on bringing the Tennessee Riverpark Master Plan's goals to life: revitalizing downtown and reconnecting downtown to the river. Today, River City Company is downtown Chattanooga's economic development company. Because a vigorous downtown is a prerequisite for a healthier city, the nonprofit is working to keep downtown Chattanooga working as the economic, social and cultural centerpiece of the entire region.