Beth Adkins opened the French Quarters Lounge on Patten Parkway in the 1980s, and she has seen a lot of change from her downtown location between Lindsay Street and Georgia Avenue. But nothing could have prepared her for the combination of two years of building on her doorstep and a pandemic, she said.
“The challenges we faced were off the charts, but we faced them and we grew from them,” Adkins said. “There were times when I considered leaving. I even bought a property on the other side of town.”
Adkins did stay put, however, and on Friday morning she attended the grand opening of the completely revamped and renamed Patten Square from her living room door.
“It’s wonderful to be here now,” she said. “The parking lot is much more accessible. The meters are more up to date – they accept credit cards. It’s handicapped accessible,” Adkins said.
Construction on the new design of Patten Square began in August 2019 and was expected to take a year, but several factors doubled the lead time, including unexpected work that had to be done to consolidate the foundations of the buildings on the north side of the promenade before the sidewalk pavers could be installed.
“All of these buildings had basements that protruded into the sidewalk, so the sidewalk was sunken underneath,” said Blythe Bailey, administrator of the Chattanooga Department of Transportation.
The pandemic, which struck nine months after construction began, has also slowed things down, Bailey said.
“I can’t quantify this, but the pandemic has also affected the construction schedule,” he said. “The work has become a challenge. “
About $ 1.5 million of the project – which ultimately lasted two years and cost $ 4.75 million – was funded by donors such as the Benwood Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga and the Lyndhurst Foundation.
Business owners in Patten Square in Chattanooga celebrate end of construction disruption
Although the project schedule doubled, the budget remained on target, Bailey said.
“We built contingencies, as we always do, and that has served us well,” he said.
KaDeadra McNealy, who moved her Millennial Nail Bar business from East Chattanooga to Patten Square in June, said the first few weeks in space were tough as construction continued.
“It was weird when they put up the big fences,” she said. “But it was worth it.”
Tiffany Pauldon-Banks, owner of Lil Mama’s Chicago Style Hoagy, opened her restaurant in the area in January, and the timing was not right, she said.
“I opened during construction and during a pandemic,” she said. “It wasn’t fun, but all the good stuff is worth the wait.”
Since the project ended, the space has come to life, said Pauldon-Banks.
“It’s just full of life and fun since the project was approved, there is a real sense of community,” she said. “We are delighted to see where we will be next year.”
The old space was designed for parking and not for pedestrians, and the new design transforms Patten Square into an open plaza where cars can still park, but the pedestrian space dominates, Bailey said.
“What we’ve done is kind of reverse the workings of space,” he said. “We knew we had to accommodate vehicles and parking, but now we have consolidated vehicle traffic in the middle and doubled the space available for people by two and a half times.”
Charles Paty and his siblings own the buildings that occupy most of the north side of the block and have six tenants in the square. The construction headaches were worth it, Paty said.
“They are trying to bring in more people and use the area, and it is working,” he said. “I think concept wise it’s good, although I hated that it took longer than I expected.”
However, not everyone was able to hang on. Chris and Dale Victoria Curtis, the owners of Blue Ivy Flowers, didn’t want to leave their place at the corner of Lindsay Street and Georgia Avenue, but construction took a heavy toll on their business and then the pandemic struck.
By September 2020, they were tired of both construction – which slashed their business by 15-20% from the start – and the pandemic, which dealt another blow. The pair packed their bags and took over the operation of Ensign the Florist in October 2020, moving Blue Ivy Flowers to the Rossville store.
They love their new arrangement in Rossville, but the Curtis took a tour of the now-completed Patten Square this week and liked what they saw.
“Personally, I would love to go back, and we talked about it,” Chris said. “This corner is still for rent.
Contact Mary Fortune at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.