In 2009, developer Allen Casey brought a barge from Pittsburgh to the Chattanooga Riverfront. Casey was responsible for developing the Chattanooga Choo-Choo back in the 1970s and planned to convert the barge into a floating restaurant and bar. The plan fell through, however, and since then, the barge has sat rotting across from Ross’s Landing. Pieces have fallen off, it spent several months flooded and partially submerged, and it’s now covered in graffiti.
A few months ago, Casey and one his companies, River City Resort, filed bankruptcy petitions in response to a lawsuit brought by investors alleging that Casey defrauded them regarding a portion of land near the barge. (Casey had wanted to develop a hotel and condos on the land.) Casey denies the allegations, and as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, a prospective buyer, RCW Inc., planned to purchase, dismantle and move the eyesore. But just like the planned restaurant and bar, that plan for the barge fell through as well, as RCW had second thoughts about the purchase. Other options are now being considered.
Another offercame in August from nearby property owner Jackson Wingfield, who offered to buy 4.5 acres of the aforementioned land, as well as the barge, and have it towed to a “barge graveyard” in Kentucky. Wingfield eyed developing the land into a mixed-use site and proposed moving the barge because, he said, dismantling it would take too long and create “a terrible mess.”
I don’t know whether Wingfield’s offer still stands, but whether he or someone else agrees to remove the barge, one thing is clear: The barge needs to go. If you’ve seen it, you likely agree. Even Casey seems to agree.
Sure, I guess it could be towed away or slowly dismantled. Or perhaps the interested parties could consider a third, more exciting option. And by “more exciting,” I mean blowing up the barge.
It might be a little messy, but if, as some have proposed, the barge could be sunk and used as a natural reef, why not create, say, lots of little reefs?
Picture it: Folks from miles around would line the riverfront. Tickets could be sold, with the proceeds going to charity or to pay off Casey’s debts. The event could even coincide with an upcoming holiday. Thanksgiving’s coming up. I’m sure Chattanoogans would be very thankful to watch the barge be blown up. Or what better way to ring in the New Year than with pieces of flaming metal raining down from the sky?
No matter when it happened, the event would be a blast, and those in attendance would explode in applause to show their appreciation for the detonation.
Former Chattanooga Pulse Editor Bill Colrus writes about (in no particular order) news, culture and media. You can find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or connect with him at billcolrus.com. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.