Collier Construction CEO Ethan Collier and his team designed a neighborhood with several potential buyers in mind.
They were optimistic that if they built it, the customers would come. But it was still a gamble.
"There was a lot of risk associated with this development because of the fact that this had not been done," Collier said.
The new 100 S. Broad St. development includes single-family houses and townhomes situated around a new road that's meant to act as a promenade.
The $25 million development already has 13 homes, all of which are sold.
"If it's up, it's sold," Collier said.
The team recently broke ground on five more homes, and there are two more crews will soon start on.
When the community is finished, there will be 61 homes on about 5 acres of property. Other parts of the land are reserved for green space, where residents can play ball or walk dogs.
Collier—who worked with Elemi Architects and Cogent Studio for the design of the homes, and landscape architect Matthew Whitaker for the pedestrian-friendly road—said that they broke a lot of unwritten rules with this project.
For example, some customers are forgoing square footage for rooftop decks, Collier said.
The density of the neighborhood is also unconventional, and the connection the homes have to the street is unique, Collier said.
The homes are designed to interact with the street; it's a short distance from a front door to the street, and some of the single-family homes have floor-to-ceiling windows that allow people to see in and out.
Behind the living room, which is more public because of the large windows and proximity to the street, the other rooms are more private. Some of the homes have back decks that face trees and the Riverwalk. The back porches have dividers that add more privacy.
"We got to basically say, 'What should a downtown neighborhood look like?'" Collier said. "The houses should be close together. They should be close to the street, but we still need to have private space and lots of natural light. The houses are designed specifically for this street."
The homes range in size and were designed to be ideal for a variety of buyers—the single 30-something, the retired couple, young couples and young families.
"We felt like in order to have a great neighborhood, you had to have diversity, and diversity in my mind was people of different income levels and different family makeup," Collier said. "If we just build a neighborhood with one type of house, you're only going to attract one kind of buyer."
In addition to the townhomes, there are two types of single-family homes. There are different price points for each, but the range is from $260,000 to $450,000, depending on the style of home.
There are also still plans to develop mixed-use space that could be for commercial or retail.
"What this does is help people see what good urban development should look like, because what you see all over Chattanooga right now are examples of builders taking a suburban product and trying to squeeze it into an urban city," he said.