Jerry Summers: Chattanooga Gentrification

Thursday, June 30, 2022 - by Jerry Summers
Jerry SUmmer
Jerry SUmmer

The term “gentrification” has been defined as “a process of changing the character of a neighborhood through the influence of more affluent residents and businesses.” It has also been a frequent and controversial topic in urban planning and policies.

 

The past, present and future of the history of Chattanooga are all included within the definition.

The ongoing series of articles on the over 1,000 residences and businesses demolished on Cameron Hill based on the appraisal photographs of Pat St.

Charles vividly demonstrated the philosophy of “raze and obliterate history mentality rather than preservation of the past.”

 

The 500 foot flattop haircut that allowed the earth to be used as fill dirt to build the Golden Gateway and the erection of the ugly bomb shelter apartments has now become the site of another sign of progress on the lowered level by a large insurance company that provides medical insurance benefits. (The courageous act of elderly preservationists to stand in front of bulldozers and earth moving machines were admired by some but were futile in the end as perceived progress proceeded).

 

Engel Stadium lies in an inert position awaiting the creeping advancement of either Erlanger Medical Center or apartment-condominium developers seeking space and profit over the ghosts of the P.T. Barnum of baseball Joe Engel, Harmon Killebrew, Don Grate and the thousands of players and fans that were fans at what could have been the minor league version of Chicago’s Wrigley Field or Boston’s Fenway Park as an additional tourist attraction in the “Gig City.”

 

Lincoln Park's rich history in the black community is an example of pride in a neighborhood that has been able to stay partly intact against condominiums and apartment developers because of political pressure that unfortunately may not be able to be maintained as the population of the private ownership diminishes with age and the purchase of the residences by other profiteers.

 

Another unanswered question is the ultimate fate of the Hotel Patten (Patten Towers), which was once considered the “finest hotel in the South” but now has been stripped of the vast majority of its historical contents by sale at a public auction, and has undergone numerous fires and infestations. While the absent foreign owners have spent large amounts to maintain the building it is still just a matter of time before this jewel of the South also faces the wrecking ball.

 

With an initial commitment by Congress to provide funding for a federal building to replace the outdated courthouse down the street from the Patten one has to wonder if a high rise judicial building might be in the works to solve the deficiency problems by destruction of another downtown landmark.

 

That will necessitate the relocation of the present tenants of the former hotel but perhaps the city of Chattanooga| Hamilton County will help replace the home of the residents of the facility with another alternative source of low rent housing.

 

These projects should fit nicely within the prediction by a representative of another foreign condominium developer representative that Chattanooga can be “The next Nashville or Austin Texas.”

 

(Sounds great if we can just get the sewers fixed so as not to stink up the future!)

 

* * *

Jerry Summers

(If you have additional information about one of Mr. Summers' articles or have suggestions or ideas about a future Chattanooga area historical piece, please contact Mr. Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com)


Whitfield County June Employee Of The Month Helped Make Rocky Face Ridge Park A Reality

Life With Ferris: Lessons From Lucy

Chattanooga Special Event Road Closures


Visitors to Whitfield County’s new Rocky Face Ridge Park that officially opened July 25 may not know it, but the facility located off Crow Valley Road is there thanks in part to several years ... (click for more)

You may know Lucy Bell Graze. Chances are you’ve seen her running a party with Vivian and Reggie, running a family (Robinsons, Stouts, Fergusons, Webbs, Voges, McGinnesses) or just running full ... (click for more)

Upcoming special event road closures: Chattanooga Football Club Home Match The following roads will be closed on Wednesday from 4 p.m. until midnight: Reggie White Blvd between the Chattanooga ... (click for more)



Happenings

Whitfield County June Employee Of The Month Helped Make Rocky Face Ridge Park A Reality

Visitors to Whitfield County’s new Rocky Face Ridge Park that officially opened July 25 may not know it, but the facility located off Crow Valley Road is there thanks in part to several years of behind-the-scenes help from veteran county employee Jess Hansen. “Jess has worked tirelessly since at least 2016 on the conceptual development and design of Rocky Face Ridge Park,” ... (click for more)

Life With Ferris: Lessons From Lucy

You may know Lucy Bell Graze. Chances are you’ve seen her running a party with Vivian and Reggie, running a family (Robinsons, Stouts, Fergusons, Webbs, Voges, McGinnesses) or just running full steam ahead in general. She does not believe in slowing down. She planned to retire last April. “I’m not working after I turn 90,” she told me a couple of years ago. I told her she’d just ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Heavy Rain Closes Many Chattanooga Streets; Some Vehicles Were Entrapped On Moore Road; Surrounding Areas Get Up To 4 Inches

Heavy rain through the Chattanooga area on Wednesday caused a number of flooding problems. Rhea County was also under a flash flood warning after a line of heavy thunderstorms came through the county dumping rain. Brad Harrison, Emergency Management director for Rhea County, said he and his staff were continuously checking problem prone creeks in the area to make sure of any ... (click for more)

City Council Gives Final Approval For Stadium Deal; Council Adds Provisions For "Transparency" On $80 Million Project

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the $80 million Southside Stadium project. The action puts in motion the ability for a new city/county Sports Authority to convene and issue $80 million in bonds for the "community" facility on nine acres at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site. Councilman Chip Henderson added several provisions that he said would add "transparency" ... (click for more)

Opinion

Rest In Peace, Larry Wallace

Athens and Tennessee lost a great friend and a long-time public servant when Larry Wallace passed away Saturday afternoon. The 1962 McMinn County High School graduate started his lifetime law enforcement career with the Athens Police Department in 1964. He joined the Tennessee Highway Patrol in 1967 and was appointed as a special agent with the Tennessee Bureau of ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Alabama Picked No. 1 In Coaches’ Poll

When Alabama football coach Nick Saban described last year’s season as a “rebuilding effort,” it triggered a lot of good-natured laughter throughout college sports. After all, the Crimson Tide just won 13 games and the SEC championship game before losing the national title game to Georgia. As if to underscore such greatness, this year’s Alabama team has just been chosen by the AFCA ... (click for more)