July 21, 2023 12:00pm

Power Poll mixed on Westside work; respondents predict sale of Mountain City Club property

Elon Musk's new Threads social media platform doesn't jazz Power Poll Chattanooga members

Photo of Chris Vass
Chattanooga, TN Correspondent

Chattanooga and Hamilton County are on the move. Plenty of headlines this year have highlighted plenty of residential, commercial and industrial development. The county mayor plans to open a new public school downtown. The city mayor announced an ambitious parks plan.

One of the most significant, transformative projects is the One Westside project: one part is the Westside Evolves project that encompasses a complete re-imagining of Chattanooga Housing Authority’s College Hill Courts public housing site. The other part is development of The Bend, a 120-acre brownfield across the Riverfront Parkway.

The community has had mixed success with redeveloping public housing site in previous years, and some advocates and elected officials have sounded the alarm about what is coming to the Westside, and perhaps more importantly, what could be lost.

They have expressed concerns that the revamp will displace the mostly African American community that calls College Hill Courts home.

A little more than half (53%) of July Power Poll respondents said plans for the Westside portion of the One Westside project will address community fears of some families being forced out of the neighborhood they have lived in all of their lives.

Mike Costa, president and CEO of Costa Media Advisors, noted that CHA and city officials have involved College Hill Courts residents in every step of the planning and visioning process.

“Everyone will need to continue to work together, including making compromises, to assure that all parties (residents, developers and the city) benefit for this tremendous opportunity,” he wrote.

And Ellis Smith, director of special projects for the city, reminded us that the Westside Evolves plan calls for “one-for-one replacement for existing affordable units, as well as the construction of new units targeted at a variety of income levels.”

The Bend project, he noted, also is to include 10% affordable housing, “new housing that does not currently exist.”

Others are not convinced or not convinced yet.

But in answer to the question, “Do you think developers/planners, city officials and public housing administrators will be able to achieve their revitalization goals while addressing fears of public housing residents and advocates?” 47% of poll respondents said “no” (21%) or they are unsure and needed more information (26%).

Not too far away from where the Westside development work will take place is the storied Mountain City Club on Chestnut Street. The business/social club occupies prime real estate, and governing board members are said to be evaluating options for the organization in the face of stagnant membership.

The Power Poll asked members: “Do you think the governing board of the business social club will decide to sell its prime property?” Almost three-fourths — 74% — said “yes” while 7% said “not.” Another 18% said they didn’t know.

County on Chattanooga City Councilman Darrin Ledford for a blunt (and accurate) response: “The Mountain City Club is a private organization and will make solid decisions for their well-being.”

Yes, the members will. But there is plenty of interest in the future of that tract of property. Stay tuned.

Lastly, in the exhaustive and perpetual battle between tech giants Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk and Meta and Twitter, respectively, the Power Poll asked: “Have you joined, or do you plan to join, Threads?”

Almost three-fourths — 70% — said “no;” 21% said “yes” and a relatively small percentage — 9% — indicated they are not on social media.

Steve Errico, co-owner of RiverWorks Marketing Group, expressed the sentiment of many with his comment: “The expansion of a censorship oriented social media platform is never a welcome venture.”

And, we will end with Darrin Ledford’s comment on the matter: “I have no interest in joining another social media outlet.”

Here, here!

Contact Chris Vass at cvass@powerpoll.com or cvass@timesfreepress.com.

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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