This article was originally published on chattmag.com.
A once overlooked street on Chattanooga’s Southside got a major makeover last year with the transformation of 14th Street. Now know as Station Street, it has been completely reimagined with an eye toward increased foot traffic along the newer entertainment venues, restaurants, and lounges on The Chattanooga Choo Choo’s southern perimeter. A few more recent finishing touches nearby promise to make the revitalized thoroughfare an entertainment destination at the Choo Choo complex.
For all its stature, the presence of The Terminal Station along Market Street and the iconic neon train sign that has welcomed visitors to town for years, the Choo Choo itself had been somewhat cloistered. Many of its charms, from the vintage train cars to the manicured gardens of its inner courtyard, lay hidden— enjoyed mainly by its hotel guests. The conversion of 14th Street to Station Street, along with the recent opening of several new venues, provided the opportunity to extend its amenities outwardly, welcoming locals and therefore integrating itself more fully into the Southside neighborhood.
Beginning at Market Street between The Terminal Brewhouse and the cocktail and oyster bar Stir and extending to Rossville Avenue, what was once a gritty dumpster lined service alley has been transformed into an open, welcoming space. Potholed asphalt has been replaced with tumbled pavers. Benches and planters line the street and invite the casual stroll and provide a perfect space to gather with friends after a libation or before a concert at The Revelry Room or show at The Comedy Catch. While Station Street is normally open to vehicles, it can easily be closed to traffic for special events. In fact, the project was designed with the pedestrian as its primary focus—vehicles were a secondary concern.
“Chattanooga loves a street party, but hates to close streets” says Adam Kinsey, president of Choo Choo Partners LP, Chattanooga Choo Choo’s parent company. “I’d like to see that street closed every weekend” says Kinsey, who notes that other great cities have thoroughfares that are known for entertainment—think 6th Street in Austin Texas, Beale Street in Memphis, and Broadway in Nashville. Station Street could be Chattanooga’s iconic street for entertainment,” Kinsey adds. Station Street’s close proximity to multiple dining, drinking, and performance establishments almost certainly guarantees that it will be synonymous with good times.
While Station Street officially opened mid-2016, further development along the street has continued until recently. The opening of Songbirds Guitar Museum and upscale coffeehouse and restaurant Frothy Monkey gives the project a feeling of completion. One additional development project will add a residential component to Station Street. The J. Martin Building, on the site which was once used as stables for a horse and carriage ride business, will eventually feature six luxury apartments and two entertainment- themed businesses.
Coinciding with the most recent business openings is the installation of festoon lighting along the length of Station Street. An array of over 900 vintage-style stranded lights softly illuminates the space during the evening hours. The festoon lighting is the first project of its type in the city, and likely the state, and was funded by the businesses along the street.
Funding for the overall Station Street project was provided by The Choo Choo, the city of Chattanooga, and The Benwood Foundation.