Low Impact Rain Design Challenge winners named

Everyone knows a heavy rain in Chattanooga could linger for a few days after the clouds have subsided. But when new stormwater runoff regulations take effect this December, developers will have to mitigate standing water on their property if it’s new construction or if a certain percentage of the property is redeveloped.

Instead of treating these new regulations as a frustration, Chattanooga is embracing the challenge.

Design groups were put to the test during the recent Resource Rain: Low Impact Development Design Challenge sponsored by the city of Chattanooga and green|spaces. Groups could choose one of four parts of Chattanooga: Northgate Mall, Bonny Oaks Drive, Cherokee Boulevard or Broad Street, to design streets that adhere to the new runoff standards while utilizing green infrastructure.

After the entries were narrowed to finalists, groups and interested parties gathered at green|spaces on Main Street to hear the final presentations in early July.

Michael Walton, executive director of green|spaces, said the array of finalists demonstrated not only a comprehension of the new regulations, but a devotion to the city.

“Our winning entries did a great job of not only focusing on water quality and solving the problem, but also on the quality of life,” he said.

For example, the winning teams for the Broad Street and Cherokee Boulevard projects both utilized the city’s “complete streets” initiative that calls for the development of streets to include protected sidewalks and bike lanes to offer safe alternatives to driving.

“It’s that thinking that really pushed their designs over the top for us,” Walton said. “They went above and beyond the issue of stormwater and looked at what else is important.”

Though there is no concrete step to take next, Walton said the plans and designs are already generating buzz in the community.

“I know that the Red Bank community is interested in the Cherokee Boulevard designs especially as a way to help bring people through that corridor,” said Walton. “As Chattanooga grows and expands, these regulations have to be taken into account. These design plans will be there as case studies and examples of what developers can do.”