The Travel Trolley

$8 million renovation underway at Chattanooga Choo Choo

A rendering of new development at the Chattanooga Choo Choo from Market and 14th streets (Courtesy Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — An $8 million renovation of the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is underway.

As part of the project, the hotel is adding new retail space, a pair of new restaurants with outdoor patio seating a comedy club and a 500-seat music/entertainment venue. As part of the project, the hotel is spending $1 million to renovate hotel rooms in Building One, which was built when the former train station was converted to a hotel in the early 1970s.

“We will bring the building back to its early historical form, showcasing the original architectural elements,” Jon Kinsey, managing partner of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, said in a July news release. “By returning the historic building to its original open floor plan, we will honor the past while creating new and exciting attractions in the heart of Chattanooga.”

New restaurants include SAM’S All American Sports Bar and Grill and Blue Fish Oyster Bar. The outdoor seating will be located in front of the building at the intersection of Market and 14th streets.

The Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel occupies the former Terminal Station building. Terminal Station opened in 1909 to serve a burgeoning railroad city and remained in use until the last train — the Birmingham Special — departed on Aug. 11, 1970.

Investors purchased the former train station and converted it into the Chattanooga Choo Choo. The re-purposed hotel opened in 1972.

The Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel includes 363 rooms and suites, making it the largest hotel in The Scenic City. Of those 363 rooms, 48 rooms are located in restored train cars.

In addition to a few restaurants and shops on the terminal station’s grounds, other amenities include tennis courts and outdoor pools, and visitors can hop a 1924 New Orleans trolley to tour the 24-acre hotel. The streetcar was built in High Point, N.C., and operated in New Orleans before serving in Chattanooga.

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