Mixed-use development proposed for Lupton City riverfront property

Mixed-use development proposed for Lupton City riverfront property

The developers of what could become the largest new residential and commercial project in the city of Chattanooga in decades say they want to build more than 400 homes around a 45,000-square-feet town village with neighborhood restaurants, stores and medical offices.

Plans for the 155-acre development near the former Dixie Yarns mill in Lupton City will be presented to the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission next month. But the preliminary plan for a town center, recreation trails and community gathering spaces in a "New Urbanism" design is already earning praise from local residents.

› Chattanooga businessman John T. Lupton in the 1920s bought 1,000 acres of farm land on the Tennessee River to develop a manufacturing community called Lupton City for the yarn and thread maker then known as Dixie Mercerizing Co. As business grew, houses, a post office, church, gym, movie theater, swimming pool and golf course were built.

› R.L. Stowe Mills acquires Dixie Yarns in 1998 and operates the mill until it shuts down in 2009.

› BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee bought 210 acres near the mill in 2001 for a new corporate campus, but abandoned those plans in favor of building its headquarters downtown on Cameron Hill.

› Lupton City LLC, a real estate partnership connected to the Dockery Group in Peachtree City, Ga., buys the 12-acre mill site in 2012 and tears down the mill to recycle usable bricks, metal and wood. But the reclamation effort stops after several months before the mill site is cleaned up and after wood planks treated with creosote are exposed, leaving the mill as a Brownfield site.

› In 2017, the city acquires the mill site after Lupton City LLC fails to pay property taxes. Chattanooga budgets $1.5 million for cleanup.

› Riverton Development Group bought 210 acres in Lupton City in January 2018 for $8.1 million and began preparing plans for housing, commercial and recreational complex

See the Riverton development plan.

Known as "Riverton" for the riverfront site in Lupton City, the proposed $200 million-plus development is expected to be built out over the next five or six years if the layout and zoning is approved by the planning commission and City Council. The first phase will include the Village Center at the entrance to Riverton on part of the current 9-hole Lupton City Golf Course. The town center off of Lupton Drive is being designed to include retail, dining, recreation and office space options with space for 70 residential units on the top floors above the new storefronts.

Sponsored by Connatix

About 58 townhomes will surround the village center, and about 355 single-family homes are planned throughout the entire Riverton neighborhood, extending to the banks of the Tennessee River.

"It was really important to us to receive input from the surrounding neighborhoods, and we’re excited for them to see how we incorporated the feedback into the master plan for Riverton," said Becky Cope English, a Chattanooga Realtor and partner in the development. "The result is a community that’s planned with people in mind and a life they want to enjoy."

Mark Mullins, president of the Fairfax Heights/Bagwell City Neighborhood Association, said Lupton City residents are generally supportive of the Riverton proposal.

"We recognized that ultimately this site was going to be developed and we’re very pleased to see a plan that should improve our community and is so welcoming to neighboring development," Mullins said. "I think this will enhance the value of our homes and help this entire area of town."

Lawton Haygood, who recently opened the Side Track restaurant on Hixson Pike near Lupton Drive, also welcomed the project, even if it might bring another restaurant competitor or two.

"We think we have something unique so we’re not worried about another competitor and we think this should be another great asset to this part of town," Haygood said.

As outlined in the Riverton Master Plan, more than a fourth of the total site will remain undeveloped to offer natural community spaces. Riverton will also preserve existing wetlands and streams that crisscross the property.

English said the developers were inspired to design the village center and residences from successful communities like Serenbe, Hammonds Ferry and Vickery in Georgia, Mt. Laurel near Birmingham, Ala., Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina and Westhaven near Franklin, Tenn.

"The main thread throughout all of these communities is that they were planned for how people want to live," English said. "We are building upon the style of those vibrant neighborhoods and creating a happy, healthy and active environment, where people of all generations and backgrounds will live, work and play together."

As people enter the neighborhood, English said they will travel on tree-lined streets with sidewalks and parallel parking bordering the roadway. A wide, tree-lined median and walking path will divide the main road cutting through the center of the neighborhood.

At its terminus, a pedestrian pathway will lead residents to the Tennessee River. Beyond the village center, neighborhood amenities will include recreation and gathering areas as well as river access for paddleboarding and kayaking.

The development group planning Riverton, organized as a limited partnership, bought 210 acres in January from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, which acquired the land a decade ago with plans to locate its corporate campus on the site. At the urging of then Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker, BlueCross ultimately changed its plans and instead erected its $300 million headquarters complex atop Cameron Hill in downtown Chattanooga.

The Lupton City site — the largest undeveloped riverfront site in the city of Chattanooga — is part of nearly 1,000 acres the late John T. Lupton acquired a century ago to create the Lupton City mill and surrounding mill town for Dixie Mercerizing Co., when the company began in 1920.

The Dixie mill, which was sold to R.L. Stowe Co., in 1998, ultimately shut down in 2009 and the mill was later toppled by a real estate group that failed to clean up the site.

The 12-acre mill site along Mercer Road, which has been left largely as a pile of brick rubble for the past four years, was ultimately acquired by the city of Chattanooga after the previous owners failed to pay overdue property taxes. The city budgeted $1.5 million to clean up to site and plans to try to sell it for redevelopment by next year.

The city’s plans for the cleanup last year were delayed while city officials worked to gain state regulatory approval for the clean up of the creosote wood contamination exposed during the demolition by the former owners.

Donna Williams, director of the city’s Department of Economic and Community Development, told the local neighborhood group last month that the city will open bids for the clean up in May and she hopes to have contractors working on the site to clear the mill debris by this summer.

Cleaning up the unsightly mill rubble "will go a long way to help our community," Mullins said.

Becky Cope English, a partner with Riverton Development…

Adjacent to the mill site on Mercer Road, Greentech Homes also is planning to build 30 new single-family, detached homes on the site and nearby property of the former Lupton City Post Office and community gym.

Former Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson, director of development and government relations for Greentech, said the home building company expects to submit a rezoning petition and development plans to city planners in time for the June meeting of the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

The Greentech site is now zoned M-1 manufacturing because it was once part of the former textile mill. But Anderson said Greentech will likely request an RTZ (urban overlay) zoning with the condition that the company will only build single-family detached homes on the property.

"We are still in the planning stages, but we anticipate the houses will be in the 1,800- to 2,000-square-foot range in size and we’re shooting to price the new homes in the $250,000 to $275,000 range," Anderson said last week. "There is really strong neighborhood in Lupton City and we want to be good partners with them as we add to all that is coming in this part of town as the city cleans up the mill site. We want to take what has been a blighted piece of property and make it a beautiful addition to this neighborhood."

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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Baby boomers leaving suburbs for fun in the city

As a large and wealthy generation, Boomers are opting to forgo suburban life for city amenitites

As the baby boomer generation ages, many are forgoing their suburban lifestyle to live in the busier cities, close to urban amenities

ATLANTA—Twenty years ago, it seemed everyone was moving out into the suburbs. And now, depending on who you talk to, everyone is moving back to the city.

That’s especially true among baby boomers, those of us born between 1946 and 1964.


Their nests are empty. They are over the big houses, with big lawns and swimming pools in constant need of maintenance. And when you happen to be one of the largest generations — an estimated 74.9 million of us in the United States — and the wealthiest generation ever to retire, developers and businesses start to notice.

Andy Isakson first noticed back in the ‘90s.

At the time, he said, his parents were looking at their retirement options, and although they had spent nearly their entire lives in real estate, they never found what they wanted.

When his father passed, Isakson and his siblings took turns caring for their mother, who had dementia.

“Over the last five years of her life, she had to move five times,” said Isakson.

Each time the disease progressed, the siblings were forced to move her to a place better suited to care for her.

“From a consumer standpoint, I knew there had to be a better way,” Isakson said.

In 2002, eight years after his mother passed away, Isakson opened Park Springs, a resort-style retirement community adjacent to Stone Mountain Park. He is poised to open Peachtree Hills Place, a second smaller community for those 55 and older in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, next summer.

“Location is everything in real estate,” said Kevin Isakson, principal for Isakson Living and Andy Isakson’s nephew. “We’ve always known there was a strong demand for this intown offering for folks who don’t want to abandon their urban lifestyle.”

Peachtree Hills Place will come complete with restaurants, a fitness center, indoor swimming pool and health clinic, the one thing his parents needed most.

Andy Isakson, 65, grew up in Brookhaven, Ga., with two other siblings, including U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. He graduated from the old Dykes High School, now Sutton Middle School, before heading to Vanderbilt University, where he earned an economics degree in 1974.

He abandoned city life for the suburbs the moment he returned, married and started building a family, which by the way, are all the things that tend to tie people down.

It helped, of course, that there was no traffic but, well, that was then.

Just as the traffic patterns changed, so too have populations.

For several decades before the 2000 census, the city of Atlanta, for instance, had been steadily losing population. Then from 2010-2017, it grew by 7 per cent, adding 9,900 new residents in the past year compared to 4,800 the year before.

Atlantans, 60 years and older, currently make up 10 per cent of the population, and that number is expected to double by 2030, making Atlanta one of the fastest-aging cities in America.

How many are migrating back into the city?

That’s hard to say, said Mike Alexander, director of the Center for Livable Communities at the Atlanta Regional Commission.

“The hard data really isn’t there, but I think like everyone else anecdotally we do see a trend of people moving back to the core,” Alexander said. “I see it all around me personally.”

Gregg Logan, managing director of RCLCO, a real estate advisory services firm that does market research for real estate companies all over the country, said the journey back into town is a big enough trend that there is a ready market for developers and others targeting boomers.

While about half of boomers who retire are happy to age in place, Logan said that about 15 per cent opt to move into the city to partake in urban amenities like restaurants, shopping, culture, all the things you find are more prevalent in the city and that Isakson points to.

And even if Buckhead is out of the question economically, downtown Duluth, Suwanee or Roswell may be within reach.

“There’s a ‘want-driven’ market and a ‘need-driven’ market,” Logan said. “The want-driven market is lifestyle oriented, they’re active adults age 55 to 65 moving back in town to have fun, socialize and enjoy all the urban amenities. That’s the market we’re seeing the biggest uptick in the market for. They’ve decided ‘urban’ is more exciting than living in the suburbs.

“The need-driven market includes those in their late 60s or older who move to independent living communities, where there is meal service, and those in their 70s or older who move to an assisted living facility. ALFs offer meal service and varying degrees of assistance with daily living, including skilled nursing and memory care. That’s a different, more medically driven market.”

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Peachtree City’s newest industry brings 20 jobs

SILON representatives were joined by govenment and industry guests at the April 12 ribbon-cutting at the company’s $20 million industrial plant in Peachtree City. Pictured, from left, are SILON Plant Manager Scott Whiteside, CFO Dr. Bernd Morawitz, CEO Dr. Wolfgang Riediger, COO Drahomir Koudelka and Technical Services and QA Manager Carl Mahabir. Photo/Submitted.

The ribbon-cutting for Peachtree City’s newest industry was held on April 12. SILON, a leading producer of technical compounds and polyester staple fibers, will create more than 20 jobs and invest $20 million in a new Peachtree City facility located off Ga. Highway 74 South.

Above, SILON representatives were joined by government and industry guests at the April 12 ribbon-cutting at the company’s $20 million industrial plant in Peachtree City. Pictured, from left, are SILON Plant Manager Scott Whiteside, CFO Dr. Bernd Morawitz, CEO Dr. Wolfgang Riediger, COO Drahomir Koudelka and Technical Services and QA Manager Carl Mahabir. Photo/Submitted.

“SILON is thrilled to open a new production site here in the U.S.,” said Dr. Wolfgang Riediger, company CEO. “This will bring us one step closer to our U.S. customers so we can better suit their needs.”

The SILON facility on Sierra Drive off Hwy. 74 South will be used for manufacturing, warehousing and storage purposes. The newly created jobs include positions in engineering, management and production.

Headquartered in the Czech Republic, SILON produces and sells polyolefin-based performance compounds and polyester fibers for use in the construction, automotive, and medical industries, among others.

“On behalf of Peachtree City, I am so pleased to welcome SILON to our Industrial Park,” Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch said in a previous statement. “Peachtree City’s many industries play a vital role in making this great community, and we appreciate the investment SILON is making here. We look forward to working with SILON as they expand their business in our wonderful city.”

Commenting on the arrival of SILON in Peachtree City, Gov. Nathan Deal in a previous statement said, “Georgia’s top-ranked business environment continues to attract international firms like SILON to our state. In choosing Fayette County for this facility, SILON will find the logistics infrastructure and well-trained workforce necessary to support customers in a range of industries. I’m pleased to welcome SILON to the growing number of international companies creating jobs for Georgians and investing in our communities.”

Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Project Manager Joseph Huntemann represented the Global Commerce division in partnership with the Fayette County Development Authority (FCDA).

“The Fayette County Development Authority was pleased to partner with SILON to assist in its location in Peachtree City and Fayette County,” said FCDA Chairman Darryl Hicks. “SILON will be a great asset for our community, both from the job perspective and for the capital investment they will add to our economy. In addition, we look forward to the cultural experiences that will be exchanged as a result of this international company’s addition to our family.”

SILON was founded in 1950 as a state-owned company near Tabor, Czech Republic, and is now one of the top producers of polyester fibers and polyolefin based compounds in Europe. SILON specializes in tailor-made solutions, creating products with very specific properties for a wide range of applications, according to SILON.

“We are excited to welcome SILON to Georgia, as they join a league of elite companies with manufacturing operations in the state,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “We’ve become a global destination for international companies who are looking to drive innovation and expand their global footprint. I look forward to the success SILON will see in Peachtree City.”

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Earth Fare to close two metro Atlanta grocery stores – Greensboro – Triad Business Journal

Asheville-based natural foods grocer Earth Fare Inc. is closing two of its metro Atlanta stores due to “real estate challenges.”

The stores in Peachtree Corners and at the Emory Point development (near the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) will close at the end of the month.

“As part of Earth Fare’s strategy for accelerated growth, we have carefully reviewed our existing portfolio of store locations and made the difficult decision to close our Peachtree Corners and Emory Point locations. Despite the hard work of our team members, the real estate challenges associated with these locations have proven too difficult to overcome. Both stores will continue to serve customers through March 31,” said the grocer in a prepared statement.

Atlanta Business Chronicle had reported in 2013 that Earth Fare was scouting metro Atlanta for its first locations. It opened its Peachtree Corners location in early 2015, with Emory Point following that summer.

One metro Atlanta store remains in Cumming. Earth Fare also has locations in Athens and near Augusta, Ga.

Metro Atlanta in recent years has seen its greatest wave of grocery store openings since the 1990s, fueled by population growth and the trend of more people moving back into the city.

Atlanta Business Chronicle reported last fall that nearly 75 new grocery stores had opened in metro Atlanta over a two-year period.

Earth Fare has 10 stores across North Carolina, including one in the Triad that it renovated last year. It is closing stores just as grocery chains now are competing head to head and are facing their greatest period of innovation, with the growth of new technologies allowing consumers to shop online for produce and packaged goods.

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Comprehensive Plan Meeting For Peachtree Corners Set For April 10

Comprehensive Plan Meeting For Peachtree Corners Set For April 10

PEACHTREE CORNERS, GA — The City of Peachtree Corners is updating its 2033 Comprehensive Plan which is a planning document that directs all activities related to land use, transportation, housing and economic development. The Comprehensive Plan is the guiding document for the city’s future and is updated every five years; it can be viewed on the Community Development page. Continue reading →