River Daze: Cameron Harbor Development

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Can it be happening? The first downtown river community—Cameron Harbor—is soon to be complete with incredibly diverse housing options, boat slips, a Riverwalk, a hotel and possibly even a restaurant. And as some say—it’s happening right here in the Best City Ever. Certainly, it’s one of the best cities in the heart of South.

Cameron Harbor is one of the few places where you can live on the Tennessee River and actually be in downtown, agrees Schimpf and his partners.

Buck Schimpf and his wife Darlene Brown with the Tennessee River in the background. Residents will live on Molly Lane, named after Schimpf’s daughter.

Buck Schimpf and his wife Darlene Brown with the Tennessee River in the background. Residents will live on Molly Lane, named after Schimpf’s daughter.

“It is diverse, with living opportunities at a wide range of price points and that is important anywhere, but especially so downtown,” says Darlene Brown, managing broker/owner Real Estate Partners Chattanooga LLC. She is the exclusive listing agent for Cameron Harbor and Schimpf’s wife. “It offers apartment living, single family living and luxury living,” adds Brown.

The effort was a first-time collaboration of Cameron Harbor LLC and Nashville based Evergreen Real Estate, though both companies have remained separate.

Most agree it is an important project that creates a real opportunity to showcase the city’s natural assets and other opportunities. But Schimpf is accustomed to flashy, challenging projects and seems to have the temperament to see them through. Almost 15 years ago he saved the Loveman’s on Market condominium development project when he and other investors bought it after the owner defaulted. The historic property is undoubtedly one of the finer examples of adaptive reuse in the city.

Although the progress of the Cameron Harbor project slowed during the recession, Schimpf’s vision for it has only grown sharper. “It’s all coming together,” he says with a perpetual smile. It looks as though that’s true. “The restaurant is the final piece to fall into place. When Cameron Harbor is complete—there will be more than a thousand people living here—couple that with the guests at Marriott Springhill Suites and we have the formula to attract a stellar restaurant.”

Although he has had a significant career with CBL, is credited with saving the Loveman’s project and has deep connections, Schimpf’s greatest asset may be his good-natured optimism. After slashing his way through the tall grass of TVA permits and processes, his patience is paying off and his spirit seems contagious.

Cameron Harbor’s first residents are those who have purchased single-family homes, 27 were completed this summer and they had been entirely presold. The second phase of the project shows roughly 50 percent of the homes sold, an indication of the rising tide of Chattanooga’s housing market and faith in the project and its developers.

In fact, three of the five townhomes sold in the first phase, now under construction, have been presold and the luxury component is now the focus of a talented team of agents, backed by the substantial work of the creative team.

Left to right, Architect Rob Fowler, Developer Buck Schimpf, Real Estate Partners Owner Darlene Brown, Site General Contractor Mike Kuebler at the riverfront development.

Left to right, Architect Rob Fowler, Developer Buck Schimpf, Real Estate Partners Owner Darlene Brown, Site General Contractor Mike Kuebler at the riverfront development.

Luxury Townhome Team

  • Developer—Buck Schimpf, Cameron Harbor
  • Architect—Rob Fowler, River Street Architecture
  • Interior Design—Brooke King, River Street Architecture
  • Civil Engineer—Michael Hutcherson, March Adams
  • Structural Engineer—Rebecca Brooks, Woods Engineering
  • MEP/FP Engineers—Jeff Westbrook, March Adams
  • Electrical—Gary Ellis, March Adams
  • Site General Contractor—Mike Kuebler
  • Townhome General Contractor—Dexter White Construction
  • Hotel General Contractor—Jay Jolley, EMJ
  • Hotelier, Hiren Desai, 3H Group
  • Sales & Marketing, Darlene Brown, Real Estate Partners Chattanooga LLC

Rob Fowler, managing partner of River Street Architecture is behind the look of the four-story townhomes. This modern interpretation of Southern traditional design displays a hint of Cape Cod style and Fowler is calling it “Tennessee Coastal.” Whatever the name, the features included in the Cameron Harbor Townhomes reflect a rare thoughtfulness both inside and outside. Beautiful interior finishes, heated bathroom flooring, balconies, elevators and incredible near movie theater-quality soundproofing are all standard in these. The 37 boat slips, part of the city’s Riverwalk expansion, will be managed by MarineMax and the waterfront community will be enhanced by a pergola, or in this case designers are calling it a “piergola,” since it creates a private pier for homeowners. The boat slips will be secure, metered and have EPB power and fiber. The waterfront and the entire project is a tribute to Chattanooga’s talent, say investors.

“We have a wealth of talent here in Chattanooga and it is important to me to have it showcased to further define our city’s riverfront district,” says Schimpf.  “And with Dexter, his reputation as a residential developer is stellar.” In fact, that “if you want it, I can build it” attitude is what luxury homebuyers look for when it comes to customizing interior design and finishing says Schimpf. Dexter White Construction is the builder for the luxury townhomes.

Dexter White at the site of Cameron Harbor’s luxury townhouses.

Dexter White at the site of Cameron Harbor’s luxury townhouses.

“The project is in a fantastic location on the river,” says White. “To have a property with a boat slip and still be in downtown is unheard of—and it’s going to be beautiful.” Chattanooga’s MarineMax General Manager, Marty Puryear adds, “The development creates more opportunity to place boats and it’s good for our industry to have more spaces. Puryear notes that people from nearby cities enjoy bringing their boats up on the Tennessee and aside from the riverfront slips, the nearest marina to downtown is Brown’s Ferry, several miles downriver.

The characteristics common to all of the townhouse units include 3 1/4” white oak hardwood flooring, quartz countertops, jetted tubs and heated floors in the master bath, Jenn-Air kitchen appliances, custom cabinets, skylights and LED lighting, solid core interior doors and Anderson wood and vinyl windows, plus two gas fireplaces.  Outside on every deck there are outdoor fireplaces and under-counter refrigerators and beverage centers. “Not only is Cameron Harbor beautiful,” says Real Estate Partners member Adelia Mosley. “It is now a developing community.”

“Maybe things evolve when they are supposed to,” admits Schimpf. “But if you can’t change and move quickly you’re not going to last as a developer,” he says. All agree—The Dude Abides.

“We have found—some things that are not planned, work out for the best,” adds Brown. The ability to endure seems to be characteristic of both Schimpf and the city, she believes. “Our company and the real estate market in Chattanooga are hot right now. Each market segment has made a strong resurgence, including the luxury market. It’s a great reflection of the housing market and Chattanooga’s nationally recognized quality of life.”

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About Author

Debbie is the retired Editor of Chattanooga Magazine, and ongoing contributor.

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