Market Street is a popular spot for tourist and locals when heading to downtown Chattanooga, but many buildings are sitting empty.

Several businesses closed in the last year, and no new ones replaced them.

One building owner told Channel 3 it's a clean slate for redevelopment. 

Take a walk down one block of Market Street, and it’s not uncommon to see empty businesses and "For Lease" signs on the buildings.

Gina Bennett owns the popular karaoke bar Sing it or Wing it on Market Street.

"It was just a great area. A lot of foot traffic and a lot of car traffic,” Bennett said about her choice to put her business on Market, “So, it was just the perfect place."

But foot traffic is down due to surrounding businesses closing their doors.

According to Channel 3's archives, six have closed since August 2015, leaving buildings vacant.

  • Noodles and Company closed in November 2015
  • World of Beer closed in August 2016
  • Buehlers Market closed in April 2017
  • Henpecked closed in July 2017
  • RAW Dance Club closed in July 2017
  • Applebee's closed in September 2017

"I don't think it really helps anybody," Bennett said. “The more people we have downtown business-wise, the more people that will come downtown."

Just a few blocks from the Tennessee Riverfront, it's prime real estate. But it comes at a price.

Channel 3 compared six online listings for this block to spaces on the North Shore and found they cost roughly $5 more per square foot. That can add up to a few thousand dollars more a month for rent.

Bennett said parking is also an issue. The available spaces do not have designated customer parking.

She hopes development in other parts of downtown will spur foot traffic, so not all customers have to park.

"We have beautiful condos all over the place," Bennett added. "You know, we keep hearing there's going to be so many thousands and thousands of folks, so we're just waiting on all that to happen."

Ben Hagaman owns the old World of Beer location, that closed in fall of 2016 after two years in business.

Hagaman said the surplus of available buildings offers a chance to bring in new concepts and redevelop. He said he would put Market Street in the top three areas to watch in the city.

Bennett hopes he's right and wants to see other businesses open on her block and find the same success she has. 

"We kind of have a niche,” Bennet explained. “We do things that no one else does."