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McClatchy-Tribune  08/30/2014 4:03 AM ET
90-room boutique hotel planned for downtown Chattanooga [Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn. :: ]

Aug. 30--A five-story, 90-room upscale boutique hotel is planned for downtown Chattanooga near the Walnut Street Bridge, and the proposal is drawing more support than a similar project two years ago.

Chattanooga-based Vision Hospitality Group wants to put the hotel at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way at the south end of the bridge in the city's art district. That's near the new Walnut Commons apartment complex and the Museum Bluffs condominiums.

"Our vision is to develop a high-end hotel that will become a destination," said Mitch Patel, Vision Hospitality's chief executive, in a statement. "By providing an experience that focuses on all of the senses and provides the highest standards of service, we believe our hotel can become a destination that will be an asset to the entire community."

Plans also include a two-level parking garage for the hotel that Vision would like to open in 2016.

The company will seek to rezone the nearly 1-acre site from R-4 to C-3. A building that in the past has served as a dentist's office now sits on the high-profile location and will be torn down.

A hotel project that Vision proposed on the site two years ago drew opposition from some neighbors, who worried about traffic in the area. Vision withdrew the rezoning request in the wake of those concerns and has since reworked the project.

Helen Burns Sharp, who lives in the area, said that hotel access by patrons under the new plan would be from Aquarium Way.

"The revised plan no longer shows curb cuts on Walnut Street, meaning that the block near the bridge will be more inviting and safer for pedestrians," she said. Also, deliveries would come from Riverfront Parkway.

Sharp, president of the central city residential group known as the Downtown Owners Collective, said the new plan calls for more parking with 130 spaces.

She said the Owners Collective will discuss the new proposal at its September meeting.

Kim White, who heads the nonprofit downtown redevelopment group The River City Co., said a review of the nearby Unum Group parking lots also included the proposed hotel site.

"It showed it was perfect as a boutique hotel," she said.

The hotel will have a collection that features local art as well as rooftop amenities. The hotel also will feature a restaurant.

The project cost wasn't announced.

Patel said he sought help from The Gettys Group, an award-winning global design firm, as the concept of the boutique hotel was developed.

Over the coming weeks, he said he will be meeting with area stakeholders to provide additional details about the planned project and receive input from them.

"It's important to us to be good neighbors. That means open lines of communication and an ongoing conversation that will provide the best hotel the region has ever experienced and enhance the neighborhood that surrounds it," said Patel.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

 

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