Friday, February 1, 2013
Without roadway improvements, economic development in the Ooltewah-Collegedale area may be slower than residents and local leaders would like.
At a recent economic development panel discussion hosted by the Ooltewah-Collegedale Council of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, some local leaders expressed frustration with slow-moving infrastructure improvements in the area.
“I was very disappointed to learn that TDOT has delayed [the Apison Pike widening] project by six to eight months,” said Collegedale city planner Kelly Martin. “There are millions of dollars waiting on the sidelines.”
He referred to the North American Development Group’s future project called Collegedale Station and explained that that company is waiting until the roadway is under construction to begin construction of its planned 100-acre mixed use development located just off Apison Pike.
“We’re now looking at the third quarter of 2014 for construction [of the Apison Pike widening],” said Martin. “That’s a change from the original estimation of the latter part of this year or the early part of 2014.”
Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Economic Development Charles Wood, who also fielded questions during the panel discussion, said that finding real estate for potential industrial sites has been a challenge for the Chamber as well.
“If I were talking to a large multinational company, they don’t want to drive down a long, windy two-lane road to get to their site, and that’s assuming that the sewer and other infrastructure is in place,” he said. “Transportation and access are always going to be big issues.”
One of the things panelist Jamie Kyle, president of the Ooltewah-Collegedale Council, said he finds the area lacking in is good restaurants.
“You look at the Collegedale-Ooltewah area and there is a need for restaurants,” he said. “We’ve had a couple new ones come in, but a lot of people are wanting the Outbacks and the Olive Gardens.”
Martin said he couldn’t mention any names but those are the kinds of restaurants interested in coming to the area through the Collegedale Station development, but reiterated that development is contingent on the widening of Apison Pike.
Some official numbers have been calculated on how many people more restaurants and businesses in the area would draw from Cleveland and East Brainerd, to which Martin said, “It’s staggering the amount of people that it would attract and the number of trips on the road. One of the things on our webpage is that Collegedale is a destination of choice and that there’s something to bring you here. We see that we are primed for that here. We would like to create a town center in Collegedale and everything that that entails, and we’re sitting in prime location for that.”