Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, March 17, 2023

News Briefs: River City Company seeks Hawk Hill input

Economic development nonprofit River City Company has launched a community survey focused on the best use of Hawk Hill, the location of AT&T Field. With the anticipated relocation of the Chattanooga Lookouts baseball team from AT&T Field to the U.S. Pipe & Wheland Foundry site, Hawk Hill will become available for redevelopment.

River City Company will seek community input to assist in developing a comprehensive vision for the site.

The Hawk Hill survey will be open until April 15 at www.rivercitycompany.com/hawk-hill.

History of Hawk Hill

Many Chattanoogans remember Hawk Hill as the home to the Kirkman Technical School, which operated 1928-1991. The school’s mascot was the Golden Hawks, and people often referred to the hill where the football field was located “Hawk Hill” or “Kirkman Hill.”

When the school closed in 1991, the city of Chattanooga retained ownership until 1994, when River City Company purchased the site for $2.5 million for the purpose of facilitating redevelopment.

Per the sales agreement, River City Company then gifted a portion of the land to the Creative Discovery Museum for the construction of a children’s museum. The remainder of the land was to be redeveloped for businesses or activities compatible with the Tennessee Aquarium, Ross’s Landing, the museum and other public and private property in the vicinity.

In 1993, River City Company contracted with LDR International and produced the Kirkman Site Development Guidelines, which provided a framework for future redevelopment, including potential land uses, public open space, pedestrian and vehicular access and architectural guidelines.

As River City Company was working on various portions of the former Kirkman property in the early 1990s, Frank Burke, whose family owned the Chattanooga Lookouts Minor League Baseball club, inquired whether River City would consider Hawk Hill for a new downtown baseball stadium.

In 1999, River City Company sold Hawk Hill to the Chattanooga Sports Authority to help facilitate the development of AT&T Field. The land transfer agreement contains a reversion clause that states should the baseball team ever cease operations or relocate, River City Company retains the right to repurchase the property and the baseball stadium will be demolished after the Chattanooga Lookouts have relocated to their new facility.

“While it’s too early to identify the specific timing of the property transfer back to River City Company, we’re beginning the process now to provide opportunities for the community and stakeholders to participate in the planning process,” says Emily Mack, president and CEO of River City Company. “The planning process will include Hawk Hill, the adjacent riverfront parking lots, and a parking lot behind the Creative Discovery Museum.

“While any redevelopment would most likely be phased over time, we believe it’s important to look at this area holistically rather than as individual parcels.”

Along with the community input, River City Company has engaged two external firms to assist with the planning process: RCLCO Real Estate Consultants and Urban Design Associates.

RCLCO provided a market analysis for downtown Chattanooga, which can be found at www.rivercitycompany.com/reports-and-studies. Urban Design will assist with planning efforts specific to Hawk Hill, including potential mix of land uses, infrastructure needs and capacity testing.

Additional information, including graphics outlining the potential development site, can be found on the webpage, as well. If a civic or neighborhood association would like River City Company to speak about the project at an upcoming meeting, contact Dawn Hjelseth at dawn@rivercitycompany.com.

Kelly admin. kicks off affordable housing plan

The Kelly administration is accelerating the creation and preservation of affordable housing through its One Chattanooga Affordable Housing Action Plan, an effort to expedite solutions that increase housing opportunities for all Chattanoogans.

With support from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the American Rescue Plan Act, Mayor Tim Kelly has helped to fund the development of more than 600 affordable units that will be coming online on a rolling basis over the next two years.

The affordable housing action plan will build on that momentum by prioritizing policies and programs that both preserve existing affordable units and make it easier for developers to create new units in the areas where they’ll have the greatest impact.

To inform the development of the plan, the administration has convened a 30-person working group of city and county government officials, local service providers, housing providers, builders, lenders, and representatives from local community and philanthropic organizations.

The group met for the first time last week and will convene three more times over the next seven months to establish the city’s housing inventory and needs, identify the biggest barriers to furthering affordable housing development and accessibility, and prioritize programs and policies that will drive investment in the creation and preservation of more affordable housing across the city.

The Kelly administration is also welcoming new consultant groups that will work under the leadership of Chief Housing Officer Nicole Heyman on the development and implementation of the housing action plan.

The consultant groups will work with the community over the next seven months to gather information and make recommendations for the action plan.

Kelly trumpets Climate Action Plan

Kelly will ask the city council to approve his Climate Action Plan – a plan he says will safeguard Chattanooga’s quality of life and invest in global competitiveness amid changes to the climate and international economy – at the assembly’s March 28 meeting.

The plan calls for clean-energy growth that benefits all residents and reduces carbon emissions.

As a community-wide roadmap for Chattanooga’s long-term sustainability, the plan includes goals to preserve and protect the city’s natural resources, including achieving a net-zero carbon footprint community-wide by 2050 and reducing the amount of waste sent to local landfills.

At the same time, it includes strategies that will activate economic and social benefits, including integrated transportation options, energy cost savings for taxpayers, more accessible park systems and wildlife preserves, and new jobs and skill-building opportunities.

Kelly’s Climate Action Plan is centered on six goals:

• Achieve net zero-carbon emissions citywide by 2050

• Build a more sustainable city through modernized zoning policies

• Preserve and improve Chattanooga’s natural resources

• Become a national leader in the green economy

• Achieve a zero-waste footprint citywide by 2050

• Reduce disparities among socially and economically vulnerable communities

Each goal includes strategies that will be implemented through an equity lens so the benefits reach all Chattanooga neighborhoods, says Erik Schmidt, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability.

With approval from City Council, the Kelly administration will begin working with state and federal partners to identify ways to fund even more of this work without added cost to taxpayers.

Chattanooga activating neighborhood parks

The City of Chattanooga Parks and Outdoors department is launching Park Sparks, a series of park activations focusing on underutilized parks within neighboring communities.

The primary goal is to bring neighbors together, notes a news release from the city. Members of the department’s special events team will be on hand with games, food and information from numerous city of Chattanooga departments and partners. Each event is free.

Tatum Park, 1609 Union Avenue, will kick off the season of Parks Sparks March 19 at 1 p.m. with games, fried ice cream and activities. Watkins Park, 2411 East 12th Street, will follow March 24 with a grand opening of the new playground.

Urban League launches diabetes prevention plan

Registration is open for the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga’s upcoming diabetes prevention program. In partnership with the Hamilton County Health Department and sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the six-month program is designed for individuals at risk for Type 2 diabetes.

The application deadline is March 22, and the first session is scheduled for March 27.

The inaugural cohort will meet weekly for one hour with a facilitator to set goals for a healthy lifestyle and help with accountability. Meetings will offer numerous incentives including cooking equipment and grocery gift cards.

The Urban League’s goal is to help participants slow or prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes through lifestyle changes. Participants can expect to lose up to 7% of their starting weight, participate in at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and form healthy habits.

Diabetes is one of the leading chronic conditions affecting the Black population in Chattanooga, notes the Urban League in its 2022 State of Black Chattanooga report, with the mortality rate nearly three times that of the white population.

The program is available free of charge to those who qualify. Participants must be at least 18 years old, have a body mass index of 25 or higher, not diagnosed with either Type 1 or 2 diabetes and not pregnant.

Other qualifications include blood test results in the prediabetes range within the past year and a previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes.

Register at ulchatt.net.

See Rock City Institute unveils Howard kitchen

A new commercial-grade kitchen at The Howard School will provide industry quality experience and opportunities for learning to culinary students in the See Rock City Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Management, a Future Ready Institute of Hamilton County Schools.

The new kitchen features modern equipment commonly found in large commercial facilities. By gutting and reimagining a disused and decades-old vocational kitchen space, See Rock City is providing students with opportunities to train in an environment similar to the ones they’ll experience when entering the workforce.

The institute will expand students’ knowledge about the industry through experiences at local restaurants, hotels and other attractions in Chattanooga.

Students have two different pathways: Culinary Arts and Hospitality and Tourism Management. In Culinary Arts, students will focus on cooking, food presentation and safety and sanitation conditions in a kitchen. In the Hospitality and Tourism Management pathway, students will learn how customer service can affect the quality of restaurants or businesses.

Seniors will be prepared for an exam that leads to a ServSafe Certification or the Hospitality Professional Certification, as well as work toward prerequisite courses for collegiate pathways.

The partnership between HCS and See Rock City grew out of a desire to expose students to hospitality and tourism industry careers. The branded partnership of the Future Ready Institute at The Howard School was signed in 2019.

Hamilton County Schools consists of 79 schools and serves approximately 45,000 students.