Chattanooga Design Studio will organize a planning process "to proactively imagine the future of the Westside District." Due to the age, history and complexity of the area, thoughtful planning as well as design improvements are needed to plan for the future, officials said.
The study area encompasses the area between U.S. 27, Riverfront Parkway, MLK Boulevard and Main Street.
College Hill Courts is Chattanooga’s oldest and largest public housing community, dating back to 1940. Throughout the years, the Boynton Terrace Apartments, Gateway Towers, and Dogwood Manor were built, doubling the number of public housing units within the Westside District. The community has evolved over several decades and now includes a mix of primarily subsidized housing with over 2,000 residents.
Officials said the effort will help the community create actionable plans and identify strategies to preserve subsidized residential units while pinpointing opportunity for market rate housing.
Chattanooga Housing Authority (CHA) Executive Director Betsy McCright said, “We recognize that the CHA’s role is to preserve and expand affordable housing opportunities in our community. The planning process should identify a strategy that supports a one-for-one replacement of subsidized housing units in this district. This particular place in our city holds significant potential opportunity for residents who require access to jobs, education, and services.”
Chattanooga Design Studio has engaged EJP Consulting Group, LLC to facilitate the nine-month collaborative planning process, which will proactively imagine the future of the district. EJP has extensive national experience in public housing revitalization planning and development. The consultant team was chosen by a diverse selection committee formed from members of a larger Community Advisory Group. Working with the community, the planning process for the future of the area is slated to begin within the coming days.
College Hill Courts resident Sharon Dragg said, “The EJP team was my top choice because they said they want to help us gather our community’s input and vision. We will be going door-to-door with surveys, and scheduling safe community workshops. We want to see what people know and hear their history in the Westside community.”
Charlie Newton, who has been educating youth through the Splash Youth Arts program for close to a decade in the Westside has been engaged as an artist-in-residence to capture the planning process. He notes, “I would not be involved this project if I didn’t think we were going to make history.”
Eric Myers, executive director of the Chattanooga Design Studio, noted, “We are excited to help prepare a long-term neighborhood vision for the Westside. The community faces historic challenges, many stemming from the origin of its development. We’re excited to work with residents and stakeholders to assist in organizing a process that will lift voices and create clear and measurable housing goals that the neighborhood, CHA and other partners can implement.”
For more information or to participate in this important effort, visit www.WestsideEvolves.com .
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) #1
As the community process begins for the future of Chattanooga’s Westside, we will provide a list of questions and answers we receive. This FAQ will grow as the process continues and you will find updates on our website, in the College Hill monthly newsletter, and on social media. We will also post this list at different places in the community and we will distribute the FAQ via email and text so be sure to provide us with your contact information so we can keep you informed.
The planning process is being done by residents and community members. We need your ideas and suggestions about the future of the Westside Community! Our efforts will be led by the Chattanooga Design Center and EJP Consulting Group, in shaping a vision for the community.
We hope this FAQ will answer your questions and connect you to what is happening in your community. We will update this FAQ as new questions emerge.
1. Where is the study area?
Our community covers the historic Urban Renewal area, College Hill, the I-27 corridor and the MLK and Main Street connections to the Tennessee River.
2. Why are you studying this area?
Downtown Chattanooga has seen major growth over the last 10 years, but the Westside community has not been a part of the progress. As plans are made to build out large areas near the community, it’s important for our neighbors to plan for the shared future of the Westside.
The Chattanooga Housing Authority’s (CHA) five-year plan includes considering changes to College Hill Courts. The future of this area depends on suggestions from people who live, work and play here.
3. Will current residents have to move?
We know people are worried that they might have to move from homes and places they’ve known for many years. The goal of the planning process is to develop a plan that preserves all existing affordable housing units AND also expands housing options that provide choices for many income levels. Because the planning will occur over many months, no resident should move now. As the plan evolves, the planning team will begin to outline housing options, phasing, timeline and how this might impact families directly.
4. Who is paying for the planning process?
The work is being paid for by public monies and private grants. The CHA and City of Chattanooga are providing the public money for the effort and this will cover all expenses-from start to finish. No funds are identified yet for implementation of the plan.
5. How do we know this isn’t about a developer wanting to make money?
Because we are developing the plan WITH you! The Westside community needs careful private investment and improvements in the coming years. This is why it is important to proactively plan for the future the community will share with neighbors outside of our area. The plan also provides a one-to-one replacement of existing subsidized units in the community.