Hotel group lands long-sought rezoning for church property near Chattanooga’s Hamilton Place mall


An accommodation company has won the city’s blessing for a rezoning on former church grounds near the Hamilton Place shopping center that is to lead to a new hotel and help build another home for the congregation.

After years of trying, a group working to set up a Drury Plaza Hotel on Shallowford Road has received approval from the City Council for the rezoning of the New Hope Presbyterian Church property.

Charles Drury of DDC Hotels Inc. declined to give details of the project. But he said the company purchased the 4.55-acre church land and landed the rezoning of the plot from residential R-1 to the planned C-4 shopping mall.

Records show the company paid $5.55 million for the property which sits right next to the Embassy Suites and borders the Waterside development, which owns Burlington, outdoor retailer REI and grocer Publix.

A site plan shows the hotel at site 7301 Shallowford off Interstate-75 containing over 200 hotel rooms with parking for 221 vehicles.

The church has occupied the property for about 47 years and tried to have it rezoned for several years. With the mall’s construction over 30 years ago, the area grew into the largest mall outside of downtown Chattanooga, and the church was one of the last longtime landowners .

Ronald Young, who is chairman of the church’s buildings and grounds committee, said there were still three or four original members in the congregation and the sale of the property tasted bittersweet.

But, he said, the church has already purchased new land not far away on Shallowford Road in a residential area where it is building a shrine.

“They realize the world is changing. We have to be back in a neighborhood,” Young said. “Our ministry will be of great benefit to families.”

He said New Hope Presbyterian’s original plan was to use the existing church buildings sitting on his new property at 7608 Shallowford which had held the first assembly of God. But April’s killer tornado destroyed existing structures, Young said.

Still, New Hope opened its planned new sanctuary this week and officials hope to be there next year, he said.

“It’s basically the same size,” Young said. “It’s more modern and more energy efficient.”

Some of the money the church made from the sale of the property was donated to help pay off debts for small Presbyterian churches in eastern Tennessee, he said.

Young said New Hope still occupies existing church space, although in-person services have been suspended due to the coronavirus.

According to documents, a condition of the rezoning calls for a payment of up to $40,000 to the city’s transportation department due to traffic issues at Shallowford and Napier Drive.

Drury Hotels started as a small business in 1973 and is 100% family owned, according to the St. Louis-based hotel company. Today, Drury has approximately 150 hotels in 25 states and some 5,000 employees.

The hotel group offers three options for travelers, Drury Inn, Drury Plaza or Pear Tree Inn. Drury Plaza, identified on the Shallowford Road site plan, offers what the company calls an upscale environment with deluxe rooms and two-bedroom suites.

While the hotel would be just down the road from the Embassy Suites, also nearby is an Aloft Hotel under construction adjacent to mall as part of Sears redevelopment.

Additionally, a large concentration of hotels are located across I-75.

Contact Mike Paré at Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.


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