This is the view from the window in Tricycle’s executive offices, on the edge of Chattanooga proper. Our building is a reclaimed saddle factory (...and yes, our friends on the East/West Coasts can insert a joke about Tennesseeans not having cars here). The land pictured above is a brownfield site next door to us that, until recently, was Wheland Foundry and US Pipe.
Chattanooga is an old manufacturing berg, and in 1969 gained the (dis)honor of being named the dirtiest city in America by the EPA. Things were so bad that good ol’ boys tell of having to take a change of shirt to work, because during lunch the soot in the air turned their whites to grey; women tell stories of their nylon hose disintegrating when they stepped outside. But thirty years later Chattanooga is recognized as one of the greatest environmental turn-around stories in the US... read one former VP’s comments. What has happened here is a great example of what can happen when old money and new vision combine to reuse space in better ways.
A Southerner’s definition of “sustainable development” = Economic, heck yes. Environmental, damn straight. And social, thank heaven. One shining example of the ‘social’ are those brownfield facilities behind our offices. Legendary in the Southeast not only for their products but also their part in for making Chattanooga Creek one of the most highly polluted waterways in the region, they are being transformed. The US Pipe and Foundry properties have been sold and are being developed... and (hooray!) the developers have set aside 37 acres that were formerly a foundry landfill for greenspace.
Even better, they are ensuring that these acres don’t get sold and turned into townhouses a few years down the road by
1. donating them to a local foundation, which is reimbursing the developers for cleanup and remediation costs on that portion
2. making plans to heavily promote the space for tourism and wilderness tours, making the greenspace a permanent city asset
3. sending out a RFP to planning firms for ideas of how best to make the development work.