Architect Says Planned 20-Story Towers At Eureka Foundry Would Mar Scenic View; Anderson, Ledford Favor Tall Buildings

  • Friday, June 14, 2024

An architect who is a member of the Planning Commission said two 20-story towers planned by U.S. 27 at the Eureka Foundry site could mar Chattanooga's scenic views. Matthew Lyle said the backdrop of Lookout Mountain, the Tennessee River and Moccasin Bend "is what makes Chattanooga special."

Chris Anderson, a senior advisor to Mayor Tim Kelly, said the administration favors 20-story buildings, having previously approved two, including one at The Bend project. He said, "These are positive things."

The Planning Commission, at the motion of Mr. Anderson, decided to defer a decision on the rezoning at the nine-acre downtown site for 30 days.

The final rezoning decision, including the height limitation, will be by the City Council.

The planning staff is recommending a 12-story height limit. The staff said a new plan that will cover that area is just months away, and the staff was being "conservative" until that study is ready.

Scott Morton of Smith Gee Studio, which is master planning the large tract, said the additional height was necessary in order to make the economics of the project work while preserving a cluster of low-height iconic industrial buildings dating to the 1880s.

Mr. Lyle said he was recently in Washington, D.C., and remarked how the vistas surrounding the Capitol and other historic buildings had been preserved.

He said Mayor Kelly often refers to the city's scenic beauty as "our secret sauce."

Mr. Lyle, who is president of the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said, "We are setting up for future generations what our skyline will look like. It is what makes Chattanooga so special."

He also said it would set a precedent to allow other buildings as high as 20 stories downtown.

Mr. Lyle said he favors the 12-story limit for the foundry site.

City Councilman Darrin Ledford, who serves on the Planning Commission, said, "We're going to have to embrace height. We're going to have to think about vertical development."

He added, "This is an incredible project that will be an amazing asset for our city."

Ethan Collier, Planning Commission chairman, said he did not have a problem with the 20-story height, but said some conditions needed to be added.

Mr. Morton said the project near Finley Stadium would open back up some long-closed streets for a four-block development.

He said "road dieting" was being recommended for the adjacent W. Main Street - slimming existing traffic lanes for other uses.

Mr. Morton said the project would be "animated" and include new public spaces, including an event area. The plan seeks to extend a greenway through it to one leading to UTC. He said the site is currently mainly vacant.

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