Downtown senior living facility closes, younger crowd to move in - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Downtown senior living facility closes, younger crowd to move in

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Some local developers are hoping to attract a younger crowd to downtown Chattanooga, but it's leaving dozens of senior citizens to find a new home.

Managers notified seniors living in the Saint Barnabas apartments downtown of the change in December. They were told they had until June to move.

The board of directors for Saint Barnabas Senior Living Services said the apartments hadn't turned a profit in years, so they took a local development team up on its $1.4 million offer to buy the facility.

From Saint Barnabas to what will be called The 300, crews are gutting the whole building, removing asbestos, changing locks, and tearing up the old floors. They're making way for a new clientele.

"We think there will be a great appeal for young professional who want to live in downtown Chattanooga," developer Bob McKenzie says.

The Saint Barnabas board said they tried for years to find a buyer who would continue to operate it as a senior living facility, but couldn't. Channel 3 was there the day they broke the news to its some 100 residents in December.

"It just makes me sick. I don't know what I'm going to do. I have no idea,' resident Eileen Newton said back in December.

"I'm going to have to leave. I don't know where I'm going," resident William Lasley said.

McKenzie says the last of the seniors moved out in March. The sale closed in June and his team started renovations right away.

"The building was in excellent condition because it was an assisted living facility and independent living, so everything was up to code," McKenzie says.

Rent for the 108 units will run from $575 to $850 per month. They say this price range will attract young professionals.

"Nothing really downtown around this area," Natural Body Day Spa manager Mary Alice Brock says.

Brock is a young professional who manages a nearby spa. It's one of several businesses to think a younger crowd will mean more customers.

"I think it's great. I think it will help downtown a lot," Brock says.

"I felt sorry for the elderly that had to move, but I think it's good for the economy. I think it will help," The Donut Cafe's Angie Smith says.

To be clear, the Saint Barnabas Nursing Home on Siskin Drive will remain open. Only the apartments on 6th & Pine streets closed.

Developers Bob McKenzie, John Clark and David Hudson plan to have the renovated apartments ready to rent in September.

They are developing other complexes around town, too. They say Chattanooga needs more of what they consider to be "reasonably priced" options.

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