Archive for September 10th, 2009

This is, perhaps, the most inspirational story of waterfront development that I have ever heard of and one that we may take many lessons from. I learned of this initiative at the “Building Museums” conference in Washington, DC in 2005 and have been doing whatever I can to spearhead something of this kind of success ever since. The Waterfront Heritage Area, Riverlink Phase II, Bridge Street reconstruction, pedestrian bridge, downtown redevelopment, train station relocation, and traffic re-patterning all play toward our grand vision for the City of Amsterdam.

We are a much smaller city than Chattanooga, but we should think big. We can be the premier City along the Mohawk if only we can

Check out this link: Reconnecting to the River

By the Way, this initiative launched in 2002. This all took place in six years. The following is a synopsis of the journey from Nation’s Cities Weekly, March 14, 2005 by Lance Davis.

When Bob Corker was elected mayor of Chattanooga, Tenn., he set out an ambitious plan to bring industry and jobs to the city.

Something he didn’t plan, but pursued with equal vigor, was the redevelopment of the city’s riverfront.

Now, as he leaves office, he can say that he accomplished both goals. Corker met with Nation’s Cities Weekly last month to talk about recent redevelopment in his city.

“It’s been a great time to be mayor in Chattanooga,” said Corker. “We created tremendous synergy between business leaders, civic leaders, ministers and the city, and we’ve given encouragement to our citizens”

Chattanooga’s riverfront transformation, officially known as the 21st Century Waterfront Plan, is a massive project borne out of tremendous community participation and created in public meetings in February 2002.

The $120 million waterfront plan represents the largest public/private undertaking in a community known for such partnerships The project was completed with $69 million in public funds generated primarily from a dedicated lodging tax, and $51 million in private funding. The project will be completed in May.

“When the city set out on the waterfront plan, I said no money would come from the general fund. Within 90 days of that announcement, we had $50 million in private investment,” said Corker.

The plan includes major expansions of the Tennessee Aquarium, the Hunter Museum of Art and an extensive renovation of the Creative Discovery Museum.

On the south shore, the project includes the creation of public green spaces at Ross’s Landing Park; 2,500 linear feet of recreational mooring facilities; the connection of the art district to the downtown via First Street and a new pedestrian bridge; the creation of a new city pier; a narrowed Riverfront Parkway that better accommodates pedestrian traffic; a passage-way underneath the parkway that connects the Aquarium Plaza to the river; and additional parking facilities

Several parcels have been set aside that will allow for immediate on-site private development, bringing additional housing and retail units to the urban core.

Along with first-class recreation, entertainment and cultural facilities, construction will soon wrap up on two mixed-use developments that will feature residential, retail and public parking near the Chattanooga Green and along First Street near Walnut Bridge.

The projects, investments in downtown Chattanooga totaling more than $30 million, are expected to add more than 136 new housing units

The city has been able to use the waterfront plan to leverage private investment and industry to Chattanooga. A report released to the city council in December showed more than $2.1 billion in investment citywide, with about $875 million in the downtown area.

Major projects that have occurred or been announced during this time period include:

* $200 million BlueCross BlueShield headquarters

* $30 million Electric Power Board Headquarters

* A $17 million rental housing development on Chestnut and 6th

* The creation of significant new student housing for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC)

* A massive $84 million Hope VI project that is transforming the Alton Park community

* Major retail projects in Brainerd, East Brainerd and Hixson

* Major new residential developments underway in East Brainerd and Hixson

* Multiple mixed-use developments that are underway or have been announced on the North Shore

* New housing in the Tiftonia community

* Construction of a new Engineering Building at UTC

“Business leaders are using the waterfront plan as part of their reasons to relocated or remain in Chattanooga. They see it as a quality-of-life issue for their employees, and because they want to live in a city where things happen and where they can be a part of that,” said Corker.

As the waterfront nears completion, it has generated $100 million in new down-town mixed use and residential development, which is either completed, underway or has already been announced.

BlueCross indicated the implementation of the Waterfront Plan was key in its decision to keep the company’s headquarters downtown.

Also spurring continued growth is the city’s decision to double the size of Enterprise South, an industrial park developed by the city and Hamilton County.

The expansion Hill add 1,787 acres to the park, bringing the total acreage of Enterprise South to almost 3,000 acres.

The acquisition places the entire former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant site–some 6,000 acres–under control of the city and county, which have been working with the General Services Administration for eight years to acquire the property.

The city has also brought in a $23 million interchange that Hill connect Enterprise South with Interstate 75.

“We see Enterprise South as one of the most important urban industrial sites in the United States,” said Corker. “By buying this land we have secured a future for the coming generations in our city.”


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