In recent weeks – or maybe months – roadside signs have been appearing along Mountain Creek Road in relatively large numbers.
They are not political signs, which were found all over Chattanooga this summer, but “for sale” signs.
Due apparently to the economy, a market for people wanting to live within 10 minutes of downtown Chattanooga, and maybe some longtime large property owners ready to sell, Mountain Creek Road has been like one big yard sale.
Also, one or two places that recently sold seem to be under construction, and a good percentage of the few remaining reminders of old – some of which have been quite charming to gaze at -- have disappeared or are threatened.
As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times, they are a changing.”
Of course, Mountain Creek Road was not exactly pastoral until just five years ago.
Not long after that area was annexed in the 1960s, the bulldozers showed up and began carving up areas along the road for apartments for young adult singles, families and others.
While much of this land did fill out with apartments and later senior living facilities -- and subdivisions farther from the street – Mountain Creek Road kind of waned in recent years as the most popular place in Chattanooga for multi-unit living.
And a few single homes of old – some of which had a little acreage around them – still remained to give at least a small glimpse of what the once-rural street looked like.
But then Mountain Creek Road 2.0 began evolving almost organically, and much of what remained now seems to be on the way to being changed, too. Of course, it is all part of progress and property rights, even if it is a little painful for the sentimental types.
All this change has actually manifested itself in many forms. First, there were the disappearances of at least three historic structures. They included the old Mountain Creek Elementary School that was part of Signal Mountain Self-Storage by the W Road; the old bungalow-style Moses family home across from North Runyan Drive, which was later an office; and the old Bean mid-century family ranch home directly across from Red Bank Elementary.
A plain-looking new storage facility now sits where the classic school was, a nice multi-unit building sits where the bungalow home did, and some apartments are being built on the Bean land.
Actually, with the latter, it looks more like the Great Wall of China due to the large retention walls being put into place along the street during the early phases of construction. The Bean yard that gently sloped up into some woods has been reshaped greatly and now looks more like a quarry, or at least a dirt quarry.
Some remodeling of older apartments also appears to be taking place. The Radius Mountain Creek Apartments just south of Red Bank Elementary have had the facings on their buildings converted from a 1970 look to a chic new North Shore type apartment look.
The now-overgrown and closed Quarry Golf Course might soon have a new look, too. Pratt Home Builders is looking at developing the land, and it has been in the news over an old post oak tree that some area residents hope gets preserved.
Perhaps most significant of all for those who don’t like change is that a couple of pastoral-looking and mowed hilly fields featuring a couple of homes or barns each might soon go the way of much of the rest of Mountain Creek and be developed.
Some other pieces of land that were overgrown or were already partly cleared for development might also be fully developed in the near future.
There are still a small handful of older homes with pastoral-style charm remaining along Mountain Creek Road, and maybe one or two small pieces of land that don’t have any “for sale” signs on them.
But Mountain Creek Road is no doubt becoming even more urban.
Although steps are being taken to preserve some mountainside and wooded acreage going up Signal Mountain a little above Mountain Creek Road, none of the current open fields seems on the way to being preserved as a public park space.
At least that appears to be the situation at present.
As a result, it might soon be time to say goodbye to most of the Mountain Creek of old, a place that a half century or more ago was one of the prettier swaths of pastoral valley farmland found in the Chattanooga area.
Mountain Creek Road residents, of course, will still have the nice and small park and walking trail next to Red Bank Elementary School.
But will many one day think more should have been preserved?
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Note: This is another in a series of stories looking at, analyzing and critiquing Chattanooga’s architectural, urban and pastoral landscape. To see the previous story in the series, read here:
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