One of downtown Chattanooga’s oldest skyscrapers may find new life as a Memphis company plans to convert nearly all of the Maclellan Building to residential units.
The 13-story historic office building at 721 Broad St., raised in the 1920s to house what is now insurer Unum Group, is to undergo a renovation into 90 rental units in a $13.5 million project, officials said Wednesday.
“The Maclellan is an attractive building,” said Will Yandell, president of developer Heritage Land and Development Co. “We like Chattanooga.”
He said a second phase of work could put a parking garage in the rear of the building along with construction of 30 more apartments.
Kim White, who heads the nonprofit downtown redevelopment group River City Co., said most of the Maclellan has been empty for the past decade.
“It has been a difficult building to redevelop,” she said. “It’s such an important building.”
Yandell said his company has an agreement to buy the Maclellan from an Atlanta company and hopes to close on that deal at the end of this month. Harbert Realty Services is representing Yandell in this purchase and will be heading up the leasing of the retail space.
His company is seeking an incentives package from the city’s Health, Educational and Housing Facility Board next Wednesday, which the company official said is key to the project.
Plans call for 40 studios, 42 one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom units. White said some units could be as large as 1,200 square feet.
She said rents could range from mid-$700 to $1,800 a month.
White expected that work could start this summer and take about 15 months to complete. She said Heritage Land and Development specializes in redoing historic buildings.
Yandell said the company has or is currently renovating buildings in Memphis, Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Columbia, S.C.
He said his company is aiming at young professionals and empty-nesters as tenants for the Maclellan.
Yandell said BB&T currently is on the first floor of the building. If the bank doesn’t grow its footprint, he said the company is looking at a restaurant for the structure.
One of the challenges to the project remains parking in phase one, the developer said. While there are some spaces in the rear of the building, the company is talking to nearby public parking locations.
The Atlanta company, Maclellan Partners LLC, bought the building in 2009 from a business associated with Chattanooga businessman Henry Luken. The Atlanta business had plans to put a 120-room boutique hotel into the Maclellan, but it never happened.
The building was originally built as the home office for Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co., according to the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.
Provident, run by Thomas Maclellan at the time, had leased space, but in 1919 selected renowned architect R.H. Hunt to design a home office, the building’s history said.
The final price tag was $640,000, with the Chattanooga News calling it a “monument to courage.”
The building continued to house Provident until the 1960s when a new headquarters was erected downtown, the encyclopedia said.
Now called Unum, the company is the nation’s biggest disability insurer and employs nearly 3,000 people in Chattanooga.
Article courtesy of the Times Free Press.