Chattanooga Times Free Press Donates Building to Support the Arts

The Chattanooga Times Free Press has donated a building to ArtsBuild (formerly Allied Arts) in support of the organization’s mission of building a stronger community through the arts. The 16,000 square-foot building is located at 301 East 11th Street in Chattanooga.

The impetus for the gift came as a result of Imagine Chattanooga 20/20, the community-wide cultural plan that was led by ArtsBuild (then called Allied Arts) from 2010-2012. In 2012 the Chattanooga Times Free Press indicated its intention to donate the Dover Building to ArtsBuild in support of the plan’s goal of “creating a cultural hub that provides a consolidated presence of arts organizations, artists, galleries, and space for arts education programming.”

With the cultural plan’s goals in mind, ArtsBuild began a careful evaluation of how it could best utilize the building to support its work with and on behalf of Chattanooga’s arts and cultural community. To that end, the ArtsBuild offices will occupy the top floor of the three-story building. Additional tenants include the Southern Lit Alliance, one of the 13 organizations which receives annual support from ArtsBuild. The Southern Lit Alliance will also utilize office space on the building’s third floor. Townsend Atelier, a private arts school and arts supply retailer, will lease the building’s entire second floor. In 2013, ArtsBuild and Townsend Atelier agreed to a lessor/tenant agreement. ArtsBuild continues to evaluate the best opportunity for use of the building’s ground floor and is committed to use this space for maximum community benefit.

A high priority for ArtsBuild has been to ensure that the cost of owning and occupying the building will not require financial resources beyond what ArtsBuild currently expends monthly for its office space. ArtsBuild’s detailed analysis of the costs of renovations and regular expenses established that the organization can occupy a large section of the building’s third floor for no more per month than it currently pays for office space.

ArtsBuild will borrow the funds for the renovation expenses from Cornerstone Community Bank and will not use funds from its endowment or annual campaign donations for the building’s renovation. It is estimated that the total of the monthly payment for the 20-year loan and monthly office occupancy expenses for ArtsBuild’s space will be the same or less than what the organization currently pays for its current office space on Frazier Avenue.

ArtsBuild will continue to offer the use of office amenities to its 13 cultural partner organizations at no charge, including the use of the conference room, other meeting space, and administrative equipment.

In anticipation of the Times Free Press’s generous gift, ArtsBuild engaged a contractor, through a competitive bid process, to develop plans for the building’s renovation in order to inform ArtsBuild’s cost analysis and decision-making on the building’s best use. The Strauss Company was selected as the renovation contractor. Renovations on the Dover Building will begin in February. If renovations follow the estimated timeline, the arts and cultural hub will be ready for tenants by mid-summer of 2015.