TVA headquarters on Broad Street
The TVA headquarters on either side of South Broad Street, hailed as one of the city's biggest projects when constructed in 1985, may be demolished.
At one time the complex housed over 3,000 TVA employees, but that number has dwindled drastically.
The site is one of three being considered for a new $218 million federal courthouse for Chattanooga. No final decision has yet been made.
Federal officials said in the draft of an environmental impact for the project that the buildings will be torn down if the site is chosen.
The report notes that TVA itself has begun the process of studying demolition.
It also notes that the future of South Broad Street through that section is unclear, with one option discussed of closing Broad Street at that point where a section of the building goes over the busy thoroughfare.
The lengthy study says, "Reuse of the existing buildings on the TVA Site was not considered a feasible alternative due to the extensive renovations that would be needed to bring the existing TVA structures into compliance with federal courthouse design requirements and GSA sustainability standards. These renovations would be cost-prohibitive and impractical compared to new construction."
The report says that the TVA Site "comprises four parcels; three of these parcels are owned by the TVA, and the fourth is owned by Dillard Partnership. Altogether, these parcels encompass approximately 8.66 acres in downtown Chattanooga. The entire site is currently developed, supporting a TVA facility and a multi-tenant office building. Surrounding land uses include a library and paved surface parking lot to the north, a hotel and convention center to the west, a hotel to the south, and commercial spaces to the east.
"Broad Street bisects the site from north to south. If Broad Street was permanently closed or modified as a result of the Proposed Action, the area of potentially developable land within the TVA Site could increase as Broad Street is not included in the 8.66-acre sum of parcels potentially acquired.
"Any change to Broad Street would be coordinated with the city and state departments of transportation. If GSA selects the TVA Site as the location for the proposed Courthouse, the existing structures would be demolished prior to the property transfer and GSA acquisition. This proposed demolition is not considered part of the Proposed Action and is not assessed within this EA.
"Instead, TVA is currently preparing its own NEPA document assessing demolition of these buildings. GSA would be responsible for demolition of the multi-tenant office building currently owned by the Dillard Partnership. Construction of the proposed Courthouse would occur on only a portion of the TVA Site and would not require acquisition or development of the entire 8.66 acres. However, the exact location and design of the proposed Courthouse have not been determined. As such, GSA is considering the entire TVA Site within this EA.
"If GSA selects the TVA Site for acquisition, the existing TVA-owned office complex would be demolished prior to property transfer. TVA is currently preparing its own NEPA document to assess impacts of potential demolition activities related to these structures. GSA would not undertake demolishing the TVA-owned buildings of the TVA Site. Any demolition activities would be analyzed within the scope of TVA’s NEPA review. If the building owned by the Dillard Partnership needed to be demolished based on the final design plan, GSA would be responsible for demolition of that structure."
Concerning Broad Street, the report notes, "A 4-lane, two-way road, currently bisects the TVA Site from north to south. At this time, it remains unknown if existing conditions related to Broad Street would continue unchanged during operation of a new Courthouse, or whether design of the new Courthouse would require modification to the route or traffic flow along the roadway. The Proposed Action at the TVA Site includes three scenarios for managing Broad Street, if modification is needed: 1) permanent closure; 2) realignment; and 3) lane modification (modifying Broad Street from 4 lanes to 2 lanes).
"For all these scenarios, GSA would be required to coordinate with the CDOT and TDOT and may be required to submit a transportation impact study due to the direct impact on Broad Street and potential indirect impacts to surrounding roadways and intersections."
• Scenario 1: Permanent Closure. Under this scenario, Broad Street would be permanently closed, which would require GSA to submit a request for permanent closure of Broad Street to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency to demonstrate that “the public has no further need or interest to retain the right-of-way and that its abandonment is necessary to achieve a significant private or public interest” (City of Chattanooga Department of Public Works 2016). Traffic that would normally access Broad Street through the TVA Site would be diverted to adjacent streets; traffic volumes would likely increase on nearby segments of Market Street, Chestnut Street, 11th Street, and 12th Street. In light of recent substantial decreases in traffic volumes since 2019, it is expected that the surrounding streets would have the excess capacity to handle the additional traffic volumes. GSA would conduct a traffic impact study to analyze effects on nearby streets and intersections and coordinate closely with CDOT and TDOT as part of a development review process. Under this scenario, adverse traffic impacts would be expected to be permanent, long-term, and range from minor to moderate. It is possible that permanent closure of Broad Street could provide benefits by complementing/extending the city’s plans to revitalize Broad Street directly north of the TVA Site, improving the corridor that connects the city’s riverfront with the downtown area (River City Company 2023a).
• Scenario 2: Realignment. Under this scenario, Broad Street would be realigned to accommodate the final proposed site layout. Although the layout of the proposed site is currently unknown, it is assumed that Broad Street would remain routed through the proposed site. As such, traffic patterns would be expected to remain similar to existing conditions under this scenario and, therefore, adverse traffic impacts would be negligible. GSA would coordinate with CDOT and TDOT on the final design of Broad Street as part of a development review process.
• Scenario 3: Modification of lanes. Under this scenario, Broad Street would be modified from a 4- lane to a 2-lane street; therefore, the street’s capacity to handle traffic volumes would be reduced and the potential for congestion and delays on this street would increase. This could cause traffic to divert to other nearby roadways and increase traffic volumes on nearby segments similar to Scenario 1 (11th Street, 12th Street, Chestnut Street, and Market Street).
"In light of recent substantial decreases in traffic volumes since 2019, it is expected that the surrounding streets would have the excess capacity to handle the additional traffic volumes. GSA would conduct a traffic impact study to analyze effects to nearby streets and intersections and coordinate closely with CDOT and TDOT as part of a development review process. Under this scenario, adverse traffic impacts would be expected to be permanent, long-term, and minor. GSA would coordinate with CDOT and TDOT on the final design of Broad Street as part of a development review process.
"Under the scenarios presented above, the potential closure of Broad Street or modification of lanes could increase the acreage within the TVA Site available for development. However, the area or potential site layout would be determined during the design process and remain unknown at this time. Parking facilities would be demolished at this project site and would result in the removal of approximately 33 parking spaces. As the TVA Site is surrounded by several parking facilities, it is expected that these existing facilities would have the capacity to accommodate the loss of these parking spaces. As such, the loss of these parking facilities would have a long-term, minor adverse impact on the surrounding businesses. Overall, adverse traffic impacts would be long-term and range from negligible to moderate under this alternative."