Architects draw creative ideas for historic Glass Street - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Architects draw creative ideas for historic Glass Street

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- The possibilities are promising for the group hoping to revitalize Chattanooga's Glass Street. Green space and retail space are just a few of the ideas being thrown around, as Glass House Collective makes strides to revamp the area.

The organization set up shop on Glass Street about 6 months ago and is already making progress.

Recently, Glass House Collective secured a $300,000 grant for revitalization and it is already putting the money to good use.

"Years ago when I first moved here, there were grocery stores, dry cleaners," says Verlene Middlebrooks.

Middlebrooks is the vice president of the Glass Farm District and has lived there for 26 years.

She and others remember the days of thriving business on Glass Street, now abandoned and full of empty storefronts.

"I believe in the power of creativity to transform, so Glass House is really driving that belief," says Katherine Currin, Director of Glass House Collective.

The group already held a block party in April to spur momentum and is now hosting a 10-week business course for area entrepreneurs.

"We've just been doing a lot of outreach and really just building relationships and getting to know our neighbors," says Currin.

Now it is putting a $300,000 ArtPlace grant to good use.

As a part of the American Institute of Architects convention in Chattanooga, Glass House brought in 8 teams of architects and urban designers to submit plans to give Glass Street a facelift.

"We asked the architects to develop ideas that were lighter, quicker and cheaper," says Currin.

The architects presented their plans at the convention, including pocket parks and new retail space, all in the hopes of drumming up new business.

"They provide the community with some ideas that the community can then refine and draw from and take to action," says Currin. 

And the action can not come soon enough for those in the historic community.

"I think what they're trying to do is going to really help us in this area because prior to them coming no one knew where Glass Farm was or even where Glass Street was," says Middlebrooks.

Glass House will spend this grant over the next year.

While building facelifts are part of the long term plans, some immediate changes coming in the next few months include changes to the streetscape, with new creative lighting and benches.

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