Framework Plan: Downtown Campus
The same year the Innovation District was established, UTC’s campus footprint extended into the district through the acquisition of the James A. Mapp Building and most of the vacant block around it, including frontage on ML King Blvd. This positioned the university to become a major contributor to the progress of the Innovation District. All successful innovation districts have significant engagement by higher education institutions. This area has a large number of underutilized buildings and vacant land as well as a concentration of city government owned land and offices. The Downtown Campus area is expected to produce the following:
Redevelopment of the Mapp Block
Having been declared obsolete for state of Tennessee purposes just a few years ago, the Mapp Building was given to UTC. While the building is currently programmed for academic pursuits, it may need to be replaced for this block to meet its full development potential. The block’s position on ML King Blvd offers important opportunities for new buildings that could serve the university on upper floors while providing retail and commercial space at the ground level. The block will better connect the rest of campus to downtown and could provide parking to the district, as well as house a university affiliated hotel.
Mixed Income Housing Options
A common challenge of innovation districts is providing enough housing to meet the needs of people at all income levels. As the area of the Innovation District with the most growth potential, a variety of housing options will be explored. Areas around City Hall and the block of ML King across from the Bessie Smith Cultural Center (BSCC) offer some housing development options.
Repurposing and Street Level Activation of Underutilized Buildings and Vacant Lots
The planning process led to promising discussions with the City of Chattanooga and other property owners such as AT&T, to explore the repurposing of underutilized buildings and lots in this end of the district. These will be pursued with the intent of fostering a mix of uses, increasing the amount of space for collaborative coworking and innovation office spaces. The vitality of the area will be greatly enhanced by making the ground floors of existing and new buildings contribute more to the overall density of the district and life of the street.