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Buildings across from Chattanooga Choo Choo sees 1st tenant in more than 30 years

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Thomas Johnson, an architect and building owner, works on restoring a building on Monday that he purchased a little over a year ago across from the Chattanooga Choo Choo in order for the Hot Chocolatier to move in. Photo by Erin O. Smith/Times Free Press Thomas Johnson, an architect and building owner, works on restoring a building on Monday that he purchased a little over a year ago across from the Chattanooga Choo Choo in order for the Hot Chocolatier to move in. Photo by Erin O. Smith/Times Free Press
CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -

A decrepit block of bedraggled buildings across from the Chattanooga Choo Choo will see the first new tenant in more than 30 years, as a trio of property owners prepare to restore the a high-visibility segment of Market Street to its former glory.

The Hot Chocolatier will move into a new storefront at 1437 Market Street -- what was once the J.M. Sanders Pawn Shop, the "diamond king of the south" -- in late April from its current location in the Craftworks building, owners say. Such a tenant, at a time when the real estate market has thawed across the country and is gaining steam in Chattanooga, could be the crest of what building owners hope will be a wave of renewed interest in the historic Southside neighborhood.

"We wanted to stay on the Southside, and we're hoping we can spur the two empty buildings that are adjacent to us into developing those and getting more activity in that area," said Chocolatier co-owner Brandon Buckner. "Being across from the Choo Choo doesn't hurt either."

The future Chocolatier will occupy one of three buildings, which include the long-shuttered Ellis Restaurant and St. George's Hotel, whose owners say they are moving forward and assembling cash to pay for plans to breathe new life into the Southside.

Read more from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.


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