Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Featured Neighborhoods: Hixson

Hixson is a large suburban area to the north of downtown Chattanooga. Hixson started to grow around 60 years ago, so mid-century modern, ranches, and split levels are some of the primary architectural styles. Like Ooltewah, East Brainerd and Red Bank, it has many smaller neighborhoods within it. However, Hixson has several advantages and amenities that other areas don't, namely Northgate Mall (the second largest mall in the area) and the shopping centers that have cropped up around it, as well as plenty of conveniently located waterfront property.

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The nearby shopping and the variety of quick routes downtown make it popular for families, students, and anyone else who wants more home for the money without sacrificing convenience or a long commute time. Bordered by Red Bank to the west, North Chattanooga to the south, and the Tennessee River and Chickamauga Lake to the East, Hixson is very centrally located within the larger metropolitan area. Debbie Bell, an administrator at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, bought her Hixson home through Randy Durham several years ago. She cites the convenience of Hixson as why she focused her home search there and has continued to be happy in the area. "It's ten minutes to the pharmacy, ten minutes to the grocery store, ten minutes to shopping," she explains. "But I'm still in a well-established neighborhood." Mrs. Bell added that being able to commute downtown without having to get on one of the major interstates was a big bonus. In addition to easy access to 24 and 75, Hixson connects to downtown and northern state highways with the Amnicola Highway, Highway 153, as well as Hixson Pike and several other major surface roads.

Locals play at a Hixson swimming hole at Greenway Farms
Hixson is excellent for families thanks to its classic suburban neighborhoods with sidewalks, cul de sacs, and winding streets with light traffic. Many neighborhoods, like Stuart Heights, have amenities like pools and tennis courts that are great for kids. The area has two major gyms, the Sports Barn North and a branch of The Rush, as well as a YMCA that offer exercise classes, weight lifting, cardio equipment, swimming pools, and activities for kids of all ages. Family plans are a great way to save money on membership at each of those facilities. The schools also receive good marks, especially Big Ridge elementary. Courtney Cochran, an employee at EPB recently moved to Hixson specifically to send her kids to Big Ridge. She explained that she wanted to live somewhere zoned for good schools, because competition for the magnet schools downtown in so fierce. Add in family-friendly stores at Northgate Mall, a reasonable commute and a more affordable home than her old house in Brainerd, and Mrs. Cochran says it was a no brainer to make the move.

Sunset from Highway 153
Mrs. Cochran also described another great quality about Hixson-- the personality of the area. Far from being cookie cutter conservative suburbia, Hixson has a unique mix of people that range from baby boomers to young professionals to students still in college. "I think a lot of people who would have lived downtown when they were younger, who have families now, are moving out to Hixson. It's bringing that kind of vibe to the area," said Mrs. Cochran. It's a convenient area for both students who take classes downtown at UTC and those who attend Chattanooga State Community College, which is right off Amnicola Highway. There's a major diversity of ages and backgrounds that make Hixson a unique place.

Copyright © Larry Miller - Creative Commons.
There are also many employers directly in the area in a variety of fields, from retail to education to manufacturing. The decades old DuPont plant is one of the largest, oldest, and most important employers in Hixson, and in many ways is responsible for the area growing the way that it did. In 2008 on the 60th anniversary of DuPont opening in Chattanooga, the Chattanoogan wrote:
"The construction of the nylon-producing plant was also a watershed moment in the city’s history. Numerous jobs became available, and dozens of nearby homes were constructed off Access Road, Hixson Pike and even North Dayton Boulevard, due no doubt in part to their proximity to the plant. The expansive DuPont land also benefited the Chattanooga community as a whole. Part of the land was used for DuPont Elementary, and the wooded area across Access Road from the plant was set aside as a 200-acre preserve."
Indeed, DuPont Park is another great ammenity in Hixon. According the Chattanooga Parks and Rec website, it includes "the North River Soccer Complex with four lighted soccer fields, concessions building, playground, restrooms, picnic pavilions, and drinking fountains. This public park also features Chattanooga's first Disc Golf Course which is free and open to the public." Other parks and recreational areas near by include Chester Frost national park, Greenway Farms, and the Chattanooga River Walk which extends to the Chickamauga dam in South Hixson. There are ample places to fish, bike, jog and roller blade, and many permanent pavilions, grills and water fountains where people can picnic and host events.

With so much to do so close by, nearby schools from elementary through college, major employers, affordable housing, and natural beauty, it's no wonder that Hixson has been a favorite in the area for over 60 years.