Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Featured Chattanooga Neighborhoods: Orchard Knob

Orchard Knob is a beautiful historic neighborhood near other downtown favorites like Highland Park and Jefferson Heights. Its name dates back to a significant Civil War battle fought there in 1863, which is memorialized on the knob itself with statues, cannon, and sign markers. After the war, around the same time that Highland Park was developing as one of Chattanooga's first suburbs, the battlefield surrounding Orchard Knob was turned into another middle class neighborhood. It shares the late 1800s, early 1900s architecture seen in surrounding neighborhoods, especially beautiful Craftsman bungalows, four squares, and late period Queen Annes.

Like many of Chattanooga's downtown neighborhoods, Orchard Knob fell into hard times in the 1970s and 80s after white flight and a tough economy had taken their toll. Orchard Knob is slightly behind its neighbors in terms of renewal. The progress Highland Park made in the 1990s was only just beginning in surrounding areas just before the recent recession. The number of rehabilitated homes in Orchard Knob are fewer, foreclosures are higher, and crime is still more common than in the neighborhoods closer to Main Street and the successfully revitalized Southside district. However, the flip side is that home prices are lower, and that a lot of money is being invested in the neighborhood to help it catch up to others nearby.

In 2008 federal money was invested especially in Orchard Knob, Bushtown, and other neighborhoods in or near East Chattanooga to fight blight. "More than 50 homes were demolished and dozens more were built or renovated by the time the federal money was used up." In May 2012 Nooga.com reported a program that offered police officers homebuyer incentive packages, including "$10,000 toward the purchase of a single-family home anywhere in the city of Chattanooga," and $20,000 for a "home in areas where revitalization efforts are underway, including Bushtown, Orchard Knob, Highland Park and Glenwood neighborhoods." And Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprises recently "headed a $1.8 million Bushtown/Orchard Knob neighborhood revitalization two years ago that resulted in the construction of 26 new homes." Of their investment, CNE representatives explained that they are not seeking to "convert people who want to live on an acre of land in Ooltewah, said Abby Garrison, CNE’s director of strategic initiative. The housing is for those who want affordable housing close to downtown."

In short, Orchard Knob has excellent investment potential, and is a great place to look for a starter home or project for those dedicated to DIY. Young professionals especially will appreciate Orchard Knob's proximity to downtown, and may find the timing right to buy in now 5-10 years before the neighborhood schools have an opportunity to more significantly improve their performance. There are also a variety of incentives to help get homeowners into these properties that are attractive to homebuyers from all backgrounds. Be sure to inquire with your real estate agent for the latest available packages and participating organizations, or call CNE for more information.

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