Assisted living, hotel, greenhouses among options for ex-BlueCross site

May 22nd, 2018by Mike Parein Business Around the Region

An assisted living facility, a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast, and a community garden with greenhouses are among potential uses for the Riverton project on Chattanooga's waterfront.

"We want to try to do independent or assisted living," said Donna Shepherd of AD Engineering. "We've always talked about a boutique hotel or a bed and breakfast."

Fast fact

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee bought 210 acres in 2001 for a new corporate campus, but abandoned those plans in favor of building its headquarters downtown on Cameron Hill. Riverton LLC bought the site earlier this year.

The potential uses were floated by Shepherd as part of the massive Riverton residential and commercial project on the largest undeveloped riverfront property remaining in Chattanooga.

The site, formerly owned by insurer BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, now is slated to hold more than $200 million of development built around a town center across from Lupton City. A new local development group paid $8.1 million to buy more than 210 acres on the Tennessee River.

Concerning the community garden and greenhouses, Shepherd told Chattanooga planners earlier this month that there have been conversations with Crabtree Farms.

Crabtree, located just minutes from downtown Chattanooga, is a community-focused sustainable urban farm and agricultural resource.

Shepherd said there's also discussions about providing a market with an overflow parking area.

Chris Mabee, a member of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, had questioned about the potential of medical offices at the site off of Lupton Drive.

"Our biggest concern is professional medical offices," he said.

Shepherd said that when it comes to a large-scale complex, she thinks of a lot of doctor's offices with tall buildings. That's not what Riverton has in mind, according to Shepherd.

She said a hotel or B&B potentially built in Riverton would be a maximum of 25 rooms.

Mark Mullin, who heads the Fairfax Heights-Bagwell City-Lupton City Neighborhood Association, said the entire Riverton project is "pretty overwhelming." But, he said, Riverton officials have kept the association up to date about plans for the site.

The land above and to the left of...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

"I've heard nobody opposing this [Riverton's plans]," he added.Mullin said some Lupton City homeowners near the Riverton site have outstanding views from their homes, even though the residences may only be in the $50,000 range.

Zoning changes approved for some of the Riverton site by the Planning Commission will go before the Chattanooga City Council for its OK in June.

Becky Cope English, the Realtor for the project and one of the principals in Riverton LLC, said the name combines River and Lupton City and will be carved out of part of about 1,000 acres that Dixie Yarns founder John T. Lupton acquired in the 1920s to house a mill for Dixie Yarns.

Cope said Riverton will offer a variety of options including estate homes, townhomes, condominiums, single-family and senior living, she said. The town center will include mixed-uses and a central park for recreation and events.

"We plan to design the community to offer multiple residential alternatives to reach a wide and diverse demographic," said Cope English.

In addition, developers said the vision for Riverton includes a mixed-use town center of shops, restaurants and small businesses. Conceptually that might include a neighborhood grocery, coffee shop, spa, bakery, clothing boutiques, salon and galleries as well as professional offices, health care, dental, daycare and veterinary offices.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.