When it comes to dining, unique shops and access to all that the downtown area has to offer, there are few neighborhoods that enjoy a list of perks as long as Chattanooga's Southside, which sits between St. Elmo and the downtown area, stretching from Interstate 24, across Broad Street and over to Central Avenue.
James Holland, board member of the Cowart Street Neighborhood Association, says the neighborhood has an ideal mixture of all the things one could want, and they're all within walking distance.
"My wife and I moved to Chattanooga about five years ago and we were looking for an urban environment and we found a little apartment down in Southside," he says. "After about seven months we were ready to buy a place, and we ended up buying a townhouse over on Cowart and 18th so we could stay in Southside."
Two of the things that drew them to the neighborhood and kept them there were accessibility and density. Both he and his wife work downtown and they've found they can walk to everything they need. New businesses are being built all the time, showing it's a neighborhood on the rise.
"There's a lot of growth that we're going to see in this neighborhood," Holland says. "I see growth in Southside going all the way east to Central [Avenue]. To the west you can already see what's happening — we've got three huge mixed-use apartment buildings going up."
As for his neighbors, Holland says the Southside is home to a wide range of people drawn to the area for different reasons.
"It's a pretty diverse mix," he says. "That's an old neighborhood that has folks living in that neighborhood for decades. Then you've got a number of folks who are either relocating from the perimeters of the metropolitan area, from out by the river and out by the lake and they're coming back into town and living a semi-retired or a retired life in that urban environment. Then you've got a younger crowd of people who want that density and proximity to restaurants and shops. Then you've got a handful of folks right in the middle of that."
Once upon a time, the neighborhood had a bad reputation, says Holland, but the area has been and is continuing to be developed in ways that were unimaginable even 20 years ago. Places like the Chattanooga Choo Choo and Niedlov's serve as tent poles for the neighborhood, which has since been filled in with everything from art galleries to award-winning cocktail bars.
"We actually did some dance lessons at Dance Chattanooga. We took salsa lessons and had a blast," Holland says, referencing the mix of options. "It's not something that we would have normally made too much extra effort for, but the convenience of having it there really caused us to consider doing it. It was a birthday gift."
He'd encourage anyone who's thinking about finding their own place in the Southside to join the community and throw themselves into the neighborhood, because it's hard to find one that checks so many boxes.
"Get involved in the neighborhood association and get out and enjoy the neighborhood. That's the whole point of Southside. Enjoy the proximity, enjoy the neighborhood. Walk out and explore," says Holland. "Southside really blends it all together. It's a balance of that 'work, live, play' atmosphere that's truly unique."South Broad District
The nearby South Broad Street area is also anticipated to see major activity in conjunction with the growth moving farther and farther down Main Street and expanding from the city center. The Chattanooga Design Studio recently wrapped up the South Broad District Study, a vision and policy guide for the area, and several developments are already under construction.
A new ballpark for the Chattanooga Lookouts is envisioned to anchor and spur a surge in development. The plan calls for a mix of retail and diversified housing in the 400-some acres between The Howard School, Interstate 24, Chattanooga Creek and the former Wheland Factory.
With proximity to St. Elmo as well as the growing Southside and all the infrastructure in each community, the South Broad area will be connected to both via upgraded sidewalks and dotted with parks. And, situated just off the newest portion of the Riverwalk, the area offers easy access to downtown via bike or walking.
BY THE NUMBERS
WHERE WE LIVE
Median home price: $260,226
Average rental price: $923
» The Southside has experienced a massive boom in construction over the last several years with developers building townhomes, multiple multi-million-dollar apartment complexes to the west and an array of new businesses. Many of the complexes are already leasing rentals which range from a few hundred dollars a month to more luxurious and pricey options.
Battle Academy (K-5)
Proficiency (TVAAS): 4/5 overall, 4/5 in literacy, 4/5 in numeracy
» Recognized as a Magnet School of Excellence by the Magnet Schools of America in 2006 & 2013, demand exceeds the number of spots available each year. Last year, Battle third-grade teacher Katie Baker was one of about 35 educators nationwide to receive a Milken Educator Award for accomplishments in the classroom.
Calvin Donaldson Elementary (preK-5)
Proficiency (TVAAS): 4/5 overall, 4/5 in literacy, 3/5 in numeracy
Orchard Knob Middle
Proficiency (TVAAS): 1/5 overall, 1/5 in literacy, 1/5 in numeracy
The Howard School
Proficiency (TVAAS): 1/5 overall, 2/5 in literacy, 1/5 in numeracy
ACT scores: 15.4 composite, 14.1 in English, 16.1 in math, 14.6 in reading, 16.1 in science
» Howard could soon see a middle school returned to its campus and its stadium and track refurbished as part of a new sports facility. The safety of both have been questioned, though last year the local Kiwanis Club pitched in to install 14 fitness stations and a 1.5-mile trail surrounding the athletic fields that are open to the community.
Source: 2017 State Report Card
*The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System scale runs from 1-5, with 1 denoting the least effective schools/districts and least amount of progress toward the Standard for Academic Growth.
WHAT WE DO FOR FUN
Sculpture Fields at Montague Park: Only a stone's throw from the Southside is the largest sculpture park in the Southeast. Sculptures are still being added and developers are continuing to terraform the area in a multi-phase project. The park's curators hope to eventually have about 70 sculptures as well as landscaping that creates a commemorative forest with outdoor "rooms" created by trees and native plants. Free to visit. 1800 Polk St.
Chattanooga Choo Choo: A hub for transportation in the city for decades, this historic train station has been converted into a hotel, garden and bar. Situated on a lively stretch of Market Street, the hotel offers easy access to the city, as well as on-site food and entertainment options that draw even locals. Songbirds houses a collection of some of the rarest guitars in the world along with a new concert space, Nashville transplant Frothy Monkey elevates coffee drinks and Southern cuisine with fresh ingredients and fusion style, and Stir serves up oysters, craft cocktails and more. Those looking to hit the rest of the town can hop on the electric shuttle, which runs every 10 minutes and includes stops for downtown shopping and sightseeing. 1400 Market St. Call 423-266-5000.
Main Terrain Art Park: Stretching through a full city block between West Main and West 13th streets, this is one of Chattanooga's narrowest, yet unique, green spaces. The 1.72-acre parcel of land was developed by the city with art installations and landscaping to revitalize the area and add to the list of things to do and places to go on Main Street. The installations are meant to inspire physical activity through interaction that also allows visitors to alter the art formations, and the landscape serves as an attractive example of stormwater runoff management.
WHERE WE LIKE TO EAT
The Southside is a popular spot for dining, with a growing number of locally owned spots that draw diners from around the Greater Chattanooga area. The following have at least a four-star average on Yelp.
Alleia: Rustic Italian food using fresh local ingredients to create handmade pasta dishes, Neapolitan style pizza, as well as an array of antipasti, insalate and secondi with seasonally changing options. 25 E. Main St. Call 423-305-6990.
Clyde's on Main: Offers live music, a bar and an extensive menu with burgers, wings and nachos. Get there early in the day for the barbecue, which often sells out. 122 W. Main St. Call 423-362-8335.
Feed Co. Table and Tavern: Combining farm-fresh cuisine with a relaxed yet lively atmosphere, Feed has a full bar with rotating craft beer selections as well as an arcade and the largest covered outdoor patio in Chattanooga. The patio is a popular spot for Sunday brunch, which often features live music. 201 W. Main St. Call 423-708-8500.
Flying Squirrel Bar: With both a kitchen and a full bar, the Flying Squirrel offers everything from small plates to main courses and cocktails, and is now focusing on making sure everything on the menu can be easily (and deliciously) converted to vegan upon request. 55 Johnson St. Call 423-602-5980.
Taqueria Jalisco: An authentic Mexican restaurant with two locations that focuses on dishes you can't get elsewhere and served in a welcoming, warm environment. 1634 Rossville Ave. Call 423-509-3430.
The Social: Adjoining Public House is The Social, which shares a menu with the restaurant and offers local beers on tap, cocktails, a big-screen TV, casual seating arrangements and a bevy of nightly specials. 1110 Market St. Call 423-266-3366.
The Terminal: A locally owned and operated restaurant and brewhouse that uses local products and services to provide customers with world-class beer to wash down delicious sandwiches, pizza and a hundred other options. 1464 Market St. Call 423-752-8090.
MAIN STREET FARMERS MARKET
Full operation year-round (every Wednesday); March-November: 4-6 p.m.; December-February: 4-5 p.m.
Where: Corner of Main and Chestnut streets
With no grocery in the immediate Southside area, this producers-only, farmer-run market brings locally grown products to the community.
The Chattanooga City Council meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Council Building behind city hall, located at 1000 Lindsay St. The meeting is live-streamed, as is the preceding agenda session and department reports which start at 3 p.m. View meetings at ustream.tv/channel/chattanooga-council-meeting. View agenda sessions at ustream.tv/channel/city-council-committee-meeting.
Recycling: The city offers free curbside recycling and provides containers for the single-stream service. Save for glass, most household items are accepted. Call 311 to see if your address lies within the pickup area and to start service.