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Miller Park Construction and Parking: Lessons from the Market Street Bridge

February 23, 2018

We’ve watched as several businesses have closed. While parking and construction are often blamed as key reasons for the closures,…

We’ve watched as several businesses have closed. While parking and construction are often blamed as key reasons for the closures, we’re sad to see long time downtown neighbors shutter their businesses.

We’re concerned that as downtown construction continues, more local businesses may be in danger as well. It reminds us of 2005 when the Market Street Bridge was closed for a complete renovation of one of the City’s most iconic structures.

Prior to the closure, the contractor of the project contacted our firm. He believed that businesses around the bridge could close during the two-year project. He asked us to develop a plan that would not only assist impacted businesses but would actually grow foot traffic during construction.

The ‘Ain’t Nothin’ Closed but the Bridge’ campaign was quickly launched with a jazz band leading revelers across the Market Street Bridge. Construction crews followed at the end to begin construction while the public enjoyed a festival in Coolidge Park.

Over the course of two years, ‘Drive in Mondays’ and ‘Drive Home Fridays’ occurred each week. Drivers waiting in early morning traffic at the intersection of Market and Frazier were offered a cup of coffee with a coupon inviting them to return. Similarly, each Friday afternoon, commuters in traffic were give coupons inviting them to return to area eateries during the weekend.

The North Chattanooga Chamber and North Shore Merchants Collective played key roles in all of the efforts. When construction was coming to an end, weekend long event was planned to encourage the community to explore their bridge and to celebrate the grand re-opening. The event began with a five-course dinner held on the bridge and was capped off with dancing under the stars.

Later, an open-air market featuring all of the businesses on the North Shore was held on the bridge. As the weekend came to a close, media was invited to come out to see an electric shuttle filled with elected officials coming across as the first official vehicle across the bridge (Little did they know that the late Karl Epperson beat them in his motorized wheelchair.).

After all of the bills were paid, the North Chattanooga Council presented a check for $10,000 to Normal Park Elementary School and another $7,000 to the Trust for Public Land for trail development on the North Shore.

Construction and parking are huge issues for our businesses. We’re thinking that if a small (or maybe not so small) group of people came together, these businesses would not only survive but thrive.

Anyone interested? Give us a call.

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