Choo Choo to Get 7-Million Dollar Makeover

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) – The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo will become more than just a tourist hotel in the next few months.
A local developer says the addition of retail and entertainment venues will the next step in revitalizing the southside.
Here’s a glimpse of what’s to come.

For tourists in Chattanooga a visit to the Choo Choo is sort of magical.
You’ve trains out back reminding you of the golden era of railroads, and a lobby that is still impressive after a hundred and 5 years.
Now–the announcement of a plan that should turn the entire block into a cultural and entertainment district by 2015.

JON KINSEY, KINSEY PROBASCO HAYS "What we are doing now after decades of being shut off from the city in the neighborhood ..Is we’re reopening the building to Market street as well as 14th street."

That means 4 new businesses in downtown….the return of the Comedy Catch from Brainerd, Sam’s Sports Grill out of Nashville, the Blue Fin seafood restaurant and a 500 seat music venue in addition to Track 29.
There will also be retail stores inside the hotel.

MAYOR JIM COPPINGER, HAMILTON COUNTY "You’ve heard about the 8 million dollars that Jon Kinsey and his partners are investing in this ..also creating jobs…and we known how important that is to our community."

MAYOR ANDY BERKE, CHATTANOOGA "What we see more than ever is the investments made over decades on the south side continue to bear fruit."

JON KINSEY "The vision was created 105 years ago when this building was built. All we’re doing now is bringing it back to how it was initially and how it needs to be."

The Choo Choo is the largest hotel in the city and it pays 2-million dollars a year in taxes.
It attracts 700-thousand visitors a year.
But until now, 14th street was considered the back door.

JON KINSEY "We see 14th street really being animated and alive place to be."

Kinsey added that the work will include a million dollar renovation of rooms in the main building.
He says work on the building will start this week.

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