The Enterprise Center’s team released Tuesday the framework for their plan to improve the Innovation District.

The Enterprise Center’s head of strategic planning Ann Coulter and other members of the team have worked for almost a year to set this plan in motion.

As they move forward, they have determined specific values that they want to hold true in the future of the district.

The values, as identified by Coulter, are:

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  • Diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the Innovation District
  • The area’s culture and history for creating an authentic district identity
  • Integrating education, students and learning throughout the district
  • Innovation as a way to solve problems and create new social and economic value
  • Public life and the public realm that makes public life possible and vital
  • Creating an urban lab to grow new economic opportunities in today’s economy

“These values will help underpin how decisions are made, and we hope to provide inspiration to all of us as we work toward this common vision,” Coulter said.

The vision for the Innovation District of Chattanooga is to foster unique integration of its advanced digital assets with a dynamic culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. The hope is to embrace the energy and excitement in the Chattanooga economy.

“The Innovation District should be a place that adds unique and authentic value to the city around it,” Coulter said.

Specifically, the Enterprise Center has identified two zones to accommodate a cluster of projects in new and repurposed buildings.

The first zone is Civic Crossroads, which anchors the western end of Martin Luther King Boulevard.

“The idea for Civic Crossroads is that these are large expansive public spaces and some of our widest streets,” Coulter said. “The potential is great here for connecting and working those civic areas way better.”

The three main ideas with Civic Crossroads are the civic forum block, innovation-oriented offices, and innovations in technology. Ideas in the forum block include a data center, a transportation research hub or some kind of research-oriented building.

The second zone is Downtown Campus, which is located on the eastern end of the Innovation District.

Coulter said:

Main ideas here are, as the title suggests, how to better integrate the work of the university as it’s entering into this part of the Innovation District. The three main ideas for this district are the opportunity for mixed-income housing, the opportunities that surround the Mapp Building, that’s currently occupied by the university, and the potential for repurposing and street-level activation of underutilized buildings and vacant lots.

Both of the targeted zones are connected by the Martin Luther King corridor, which will also host a cluster of new initiatives.

“The two main ideas here are the cultural corner as the cultural anchor of the district and the smart city research corridor,” Coulter said.

For the cultural corner, the potential exists to upgrade and better position the Bessie Smith Cultural Center on the block. The intent would be this creating a denser mixed-use development of the block to complement and sustain the Cultural Center and to provide additional venues and attractions.

The future smart city research corridor is currently the main downtown thoroughfare. Its proximity to UTC, and EPB, as well as the underground telecommunications fiber throughout, make the boulevard well positioned as an outdoor urban laboratory.

Mary Stargel, the director of Edney program management, highlighted the strategies necessary for the implementation of these new projects and initiatives.

“We’ll be gathering working groups to create measurable outcomes, to create a timeline of success for how we can implement these strategies, but also to look at how our community can get involved,” Stargel said.

  • The strategies are as follows:
  • People and programming
  • Public realm interventions
  • Innovation ecosystem supports
  • Building and redevelopment priorities

These four overarching and connected strategies are proposed as ways that the community can come together across sectors and in new ways, and make the Innovation District visions and plans a reality.

“Chattanooga is a place that you know you can make a difference,” Stargel said.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved or provide input. The Enterprise Center team wants feedback and help from citizens.

“We need a group of people to come forward and say hey I want to figure out what the next steps are,” Stargel said.

For more information on the Enterprise Center’s plan for the future of the Innovation District, check out this website.

Kyle Yager is a contributing writer. He currently attends UTC, where he is the sports editor for the student newspaper, The University Echo. He has also worked as a scouting intern for the UTC football team and currently works as a runner at Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison PC. Kyle intends to attend law school in the fall. You can reach Kyle at [email protected]

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