"East Chattanooga is rising. We’re going to use economic development to drive community development in a way that will benefit everyone.” — Mayor Andy Berke
The former Harriet Tubman housing site offers the City of Chattanooga and our many neighborhood partners a unique opportunity to unite economic development with community development in the heart of East Chattanooga. This page will provide an updated and detailed timeline regarding the City of Chattanooga’s ongoing work at the Tubman site.
Chattanooga City Council approved site negotiations on August 6, 2013 and site purchase for $2,600,000 from the Chattanooga Housing Authority on March 18, 2014. The site was declared surplus on May 27, 2014.
An additional $4,697,880.75 for abatement and demolition was approved on August 5, 2014 and an associated $134,859.23 change order was approved on September 15, 2015 for site demolition, abatement, and employment for neighborhood residents.
Since acquiring the site, the City has also spent $16,650 to date on mowing, fence mending, and removal of illegal dumping from the site.
October 16, 2018, the City allocated a matching $100,000 for site development studies and sewer relocation design.
The site was appraised for $1,760,000 on November 14, 2018.
The June 25, 2019 approved capital budget allocated $2,000,000 from the Interceptor Sewer Fund for Tubman Sewer Replacement.
As of June 29, 2019, the City has invested more than $9,515,959.98 in the Tubman site, including the $2,000,000 sewer relocation funds.
On August 14, 2017, the State of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development issued a request for applications for Select Tennessee Site Development Grants designed to help Tennessee communities prepare to attract industrial development by providing funds to better position local industrial product. These Site Development Grants are the first step in site certification designations. On November 3, 2017, the City of Chattanooga submitted a Letter of Intent to apply for a site development grant.
The City of Chattanooga applied on December 1, 2017, for a $100,000 matching grant for Tubman site due diligence studies and infrastructure design. The City’s grant application request was awarded on March 21, 2018.
Due Diligence Studies, required for Site Certification included the following items:
- Updated Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)
- Phase II Environmental Site Assessment ESA
- Jurisdictional Waters and Wetland Study
- Archaeological and Historic Resources Review and Cultural Resources Assessment
- Protected Species Survey
- Geotechnical Support Design
- Engineering plan for relocation of sewer line
Area 3 Plan: https://chcrpa.org/index.php/project/area-3-plan/
RPA launched the Area 3 Planning process on March 19, 2018. Some of the feedback gathered included the desire for mixed-use commercial along the edges of Roanoke Avenue and Southern Street.
In consideration of site certification, the City presented application and was approved by the Planning Commission to rezone the property from R-3 and R-4 residential zoning to M-1 zoning for manufacturing. Rezoning the entire site allowed more flexibility to develop the property and attract commercial or industrial tenants. Chattanooga City Council approved the rezoning on January 22, 2019 to M-1 zoning with conditions. Additional parameters related to roads, sidewalks, street-grids, and pedestrian access were also included from the Chattanooga Department of Transportation.
On February 17, 2017, a City Council resolution was presented to secure funding for the relocation of the more than 70-year old terra cotta sewer which divides the site in two places. The effort failed, but was successfully revisited on October 16, 2018, as a followup to the awarded Site Development Grant from the State of Tennessee.
On July 18, 2019, Public Works issued an RFP for sewer relocation services. The completion of the sewer upgrades and relocation will finalize requirements for the Tubman site to be considered shovel-ready. Funding for the sewer comes from the Interceptor Sewer System (ISS) with a projected cost of $2,066,570.
The timeline below pertains only to the sewer.
- July 18 - Advertisement for Bid
- July 30 - Pre-Bid Site Visit
- Aug. 8 - Deadline for Contractor Questions
- Aug. 12 - Final Addendum Issued to Bidding Contractors
- Aug. 15 - Bid Opening
- Sept. 10 - City Council Agenda
- Sept. 12 - Notice of Award
- Oct. 10 - Pre-Construction Meeting
- Oct. 14 - Construction Start
- March 14, 2020 - Proposed Completion
On February 4, 2019, the City submitted a Letter of Intent to apply for Select Tennessee Sites Certification Program for the Tubman Site. On behalf of the City, the Chattanooga Chamber submitted Tubman for site certification on July 24, 2019.
According to Site Selection Magazine, “Site certification remains one of the most effective site marketing tools for economic development professionals desiring to create a competitive advantage in successfully locating significant manufacturing operations. For corporations desiring to locate manufacturing facilities, access to certified sites present a unique site screening advantage that reduces overall site location risk, saves time, and reduces site development costs.” Source: “Site Certification: Now More than Ever, A Critical Tool for Successfully Locating Projects” Site Selection magazine, May 2012
Understanding the Criteria Required for a “Shovel-Ready” Site
A review of several states’ certified site programs revealed that the most common criteria for a certified industrial site were divided into four distinct categories:
1) Property Details
- Ownership (public ownership or an option held by public entity required)
- Clear title
- Boundary survey
- Established price
- Industrial zoning classification
2) Site Characteristics
- Flood plain designation
- Topographic survey
- Aerial photography
3) Environmental Documentation
- Phase I Environmental Assessment
- Geotechnical investigation
- Wetland and stream delineation (Some programs require mitigation; other programs only require a plan be put into place.)
- Cultural resources investigation
- Endangered species investigation
- Roadway accessibility
- Availability of utilities (Some programs require utilities to the site; others only require a plan for bringing utilities to the site.)
- Railroad accessibility (Rail access is required for some states’ certification programs; other states, including Tennessee, give an additional designation for rail-served sites.)
Sources: Indiana Shovel Ready Program, http://www.in.gov/ocra/2622.htm; Louisiana Economic Development Certified Site Program, http://www.opportunitylouisiana.com/page/certifiedsites; North Carolina Certified Sites Program, http://www.thrivenc.com/locationtools/nc-certified-sites-program; Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) Sites Program, http://www.georgia.org/business-resources/available- industrial-grad-sites/; Select Tennessee Certified Sites Program, http://www.tnecd.com/sites/certified- sites/
Nippon Paint USA Inc. was established in 1990 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nippon Paint Holdings Co., Ltd. (NPHD) of Osaka, Japan. Nippon Paint USA is already a supplier to the Mazda/Toyota joint venture factory near Huntsville, Alabama. Their entrance into this market is a strategic move to help them develop additional customers in the automotive manufacturing sector.
Nippon Paint (NP) intends to invest approximately $61 million to establish a facility on the site. This represents the first major economic development project in this area of Chattanooga in more than 100 years. Upon completion, NP will:
create 150 jobs in Hamilton County over the next 5-7 years. These jobs will pay between $13 - $31 per hour, with the majority of them paying $16 - $22 per hour.
commit to sourcing as much labor as possible from the residential neighborhoods nearest the facility, providing good jobs in areas where unemployment exceeds the community average and public transportation is often inadequate.
construct a 270,000-square-foot facility on approximately 29 acres of the 40-acre Tubman property.
NP intends to begin construction in January 2020 and hopes to have its first employees working there by mid-2020.
For the last five years, Mayor Berke has been relentlessly focused on using this opportunity to improve the fortunes and lives of individuals in Avondale and throughout East Chattanooga. ‘East Chattanooga Rising’ is about combining economic development and community development in ways that have never been done in our city. Obviously, ensuring the health, safety, and comfort of everyone in this neighborhood is critical to this vision, and we would never have pursued a relationship with a company that did not share these values.
To that point, the M-1 rezoning that we received for the site earlier this year strictly forbade uses that would result in dangerous chemicals, noxious emissions, or anything else that would negatively impact the quality of life of Chattanoogans. Moreover, the City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County Government, and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce understand better than anyone that protecting our natural environment is essential to our region’s success. Under no circumstances would we consider moving forward with any project that would harm our environment or endanger the health of our people in any way.
The facility that Nippon Paint builds will be LEED-certified to meet the highest possible standards of sustainability. As with any production facility of this kind, we will be relying on the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation and the Hamilton County Health Department to enforce all state and local standards related to environmental impact, material disposal, odors, and other effects. All industrial waste is hauled off of the property via Nippon Paint’s contractual arrangement with a third-party firm; no waste remains on site. The City of Chattanooga is also writing strict pollution control standards into our land donation agreement so that we can hold Nippon Paint accountable for the activities at their plant.
Nippon Paint has production facilities in other communities that adhere to very strict environmental standards, and we are glad to report that their record in this regard is spotless. Candidly, Nippon Paint understands that their success and profitability as a corporation depends on their ability to sustainably and responsibly manage the sourcing, production, and disposal of chemicals used in their facility.
Since acquiring the site from the federal government in 2014, the City has contributed almost $10 million to preparing and marketing the site for economic development. This includes:
$2.6M in land acquisition
$4.4M in demolition
$1M in land donation to the company
$1.6M in infrastructure
The City is proposing to use the tax increment generated by the Nippon Paint Company investment to subsidize additional infrastructure work on the site, particularly on the acreage fronting Roanoke Avenue. The goal of this infrastructure investment would be to bring additional parcels in the area onto the tax rolls and to stabilize the market in the neighborhood as to enhance the overall livability for residents in Avondale and East Chattanooga. Specific uses and designs for this portion will be informed by the recommendations of RPA’s Area 3 plan and decided in accordance with the neighborhood’s needs and wishes.