An enthusiastic crowd of interested citizens turned out for the fifth in a series of the River City Company's Urban Design Challenges Tuesday afternoon at the Central Church of Christ on Vine Street.
The focus of the Urban Design Team headed by Blythe Bailey was the reinvigoration of the Vine Street Corridor linking the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and downtown at Fountain Square.
This current "Dead Zone" dominated by asphalt parking lots is enlivened by the team's "Big Idea" of a multistory mixed use building on the corner of Vine Street and Georgia Avenue incorporating a parking garage, housing, ground floor retail and a 4,000 seat soccer stadium. They also proposed a major revisioning of Fountain Square adjacent to the County Courthouse which would triple the current green space at the Fireman's Fountain by rerouting sixth street to better connect to Vine Street.
Former Urban Design Studio leader Stroud Watson encouraged the attendees, including Mayor Ron Littlefield and Dr. Richard Brown of UTC, to reenergize their efforts to continue to bring to Chattanooga the benefits of good Urban Design which have been instrumental to the "Urban Renaissance" which the city has enjoyed since the early 80's.
These current proposals to strengthen the "Town-Gown" relationship between UTC and downtown should be embraced by University and Chattanooga leaders to continue the progress which has helped propel Chattanooga into a national model for well planned growth and community involvement.