Our patience has paid off, and now it is time to act. I am grateful for the passion and energy behind this project. With your help and input, East Chattanooga will rise even higher. — Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke

Two days after announcing the first major economic development investment that East Chattanooga had seen in 102 years, Mayor Berke detailed the next steps in the community’s “East Chattanooga Rising” vision.

“On Monday, I said East Chattanooga is rising,” Mayor Andy Berke said at a press conference on the Harriet Tubman site earlier this week.“A corner of our community, that has been empty for far too long, will soon be the site of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that will drive new economic vitality and purchasing power for families in this area. But the promise of economic development will not be fully realized unless we follow through with some real action on community development.” ”

Joined byHamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, Chattanooga City Councilman Anthony Byrd, and a group of neighborhood leaders, Mayor Berke provided a framework for additional investment and development to happen in East Chattanooga through the creation of a tax increment financing (TIF) district for the remaining 20 acres of the Harriet Tubman site.

East Chattanoogans expressed a need for jobs in the area, but also housing and mixed-use development. Combining economic development with community development in this way will amplify Nippon Paint’s investment benefit the surrounding community in myriad ways.

“We’re going to redevelop this land to benefit this neighborhood and keep East Chattanooga rising,” Mayor Berke added. “That starts with a community vision. Over the last few years, we’ve heard no shortage of ideas from the residents of Avondale and beyond. Ideas like affordable housing, childcare, workforce development and skills training, and public parks. Everyone has ideas for what this site could become.”

In a TIF, a portion of the taxes paid by a company above and beyond the current property values goes to the City and the County for debt service, a portion goes to our public schools — and the remainder goes into enhancing the neighborhood.

Proceeds from the TIF could provide the City with more than $3.5 million for infrastructure improvements — roads, sidewalks, street lights, landscaping, etc. — to help attract and encourage development in the area.

The City has heard no shortage of ideas for what residents of East Chattanooga want to see. Additionally, the City wants the community to help provide the roadmap for the kind of development they want to see.

Once the TIF has passed the following steps will be taken:

  • Engage: The City will engage in a master planning process for the site. This process will be heavily informed by the recommendations of the Area 3 Plan, which many community members have been involved with.
  • Build: Once the planning process is complete, the City will write and issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify a private sector partner who shares our values and our vision for the future of the neighborhood.
  • Partner: After a review of proposals, the City will select a developer(s) to help carry out the vision for the remainder of the property.

“Nippon Paint’s announcement is not the end of our plans for the Tubman site and East Chattanooga. It’s just the beginning,” Mayor Berke said. “We’re going to leverage their investment to create some additional resources for community development, we’re going to work alongside the community to develop a plan for reinvesting those resources, and we’re going to have a transparent, fair, and competitive process to select a developer who can make our plan a reality.”