Dilapidated riverfront barge ordered to move within 60 days - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dilapidated riverfront barge ordered to move within 60 days

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The dilapidated barge on Chattanooga's riverfront should soon be gone for good. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered it must be removed within 60 days.

The barge sits on a prime piece of real estate on the river. Right now the property is listed for $11.2 million, sparking interest from some buyers -- but no offer is on the table just yet.

On the Chattanooga riverfront, you'll see millions of dollars in redevelopment -- except for a six-acre stretch across Ross's Landing.

"We wanted to make sure the Corps understood that we're not going away," said Mayor Andy Berke, who wrote several letters urging the regulators to make the owner move the barge.

The Corps of Engineers agreed last week.

That's good news for River City Company CEO, Kim White. She said the barge's piece of real estate is a prime opportunity for more downtown housing and retail.

"I think the timing is great for someone to come in and take a good look at some prime real estate in a community that's really growing and needs more housing," White said.

Bob Doak of the Chattanooga Visitor's Bureau said the barge has been a bad view for some of the city's 3 million annual visitors.

"Visual appeal is so important," said Doak, who also petitioned the Corps of Engineers to force moving the barge.

"When you have something like [tourism] that's bringing in a billion dollars a year, and generating tens of millions of dollars in taxes, you need to ensure everything is perfect," he said.

The Corps said the property owner, Allen Casey, must remove the barge at his own expense. Casey filed for bankruptcy last month. His attorney, David Fulton, said they believe a separate LLC owns the barge.

"And [that LLC] is not in bankruptcy," Fulton said.

The barge must be gone by mid-May, and the city says it's not letting off the pressure.

"For now, we're treating this as an order that says, 'You've got to move this'," said Mayor Berke. "It's time for the barge to go."

The city has not yet reached a decision on what recourse, if any, will be used if the barge is not moved after the 60 days.

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