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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, May 4, 2018

Uptown signs $40 million deal with Collier




Uptown Firm owner Gary Crowe scrolls through the website for Camber Hill, a Collier Construction development his firm will be selling for the builders. - Photograph by David Laprad

Collier Construction is placing $40 million worth of new residential dwellings in the hands of Realtor Gary Crowe and his real estate boutique, Uptown Firm.

Chattanooga’s No. 4 builder develops primarily in the city’s urban areas. Collier’s design approach considers both the physical setting and the lifestyle of potential buyers.

“When development takes place in rural or suburban areas, it’s centered around the use of a car. The car plays the primary role when it comes to the design of the community and its homes,” says Ethan Collier, Collier Construction president and CEO. “For example, garage doors occupy up to 40 percent of the front of the typical suburban house. The garage is prominent because the car is the priority.”

Collier says the focus shifts when developing downtown, where the individual or family is prioritized.

“Everything is looked at from the standpoint of walkability and how people experience the community,” Collier adds. “There’s a significant shift in how developments form when you take the person out of the car and put them on the ground.”

Collier’s homes are designed to complement the nature of a walkable, front porch community. Porches are deeper than the average suburban porch and garages are generally placed in the back of the house. When the topography prevents this, the front door is usually placed in front of the garage doors, not behind them.

“You can’t have a front porch community when the front porch is only four feet deep. You can’t gather and eat on that porch or even put a swing on it because it’ll hit a wall,” Collier says. “So, when we’re developing downtown, the porches are six or eight feet deep. It’s a room on the front of the house.

“That’s important because it allows people to gather there as they drink their morning coffee or have a glass of wine in the evening, and it allows them to meet their neighbors and get to know them by name,” Collier adds. “By reorienting the architecture and the design of our communities, we create the culture in which we desire to live.”

Collier says he chose Crowe as the Realtor responsible for selling the bulk of his new projects because of his “keen ability” to explain the ideas behind the design of his homes to potential buyers.

“Gary has listened to how we’ve developed our properties and why we’ve done the things we’ve done. He understands what makes our homes special and different,” Collier continues. “He gets the thoughtfulness and intentionality of it and has the ability to clearly and effectively tell that story to our would-be buyers.”

Uptown Firm is a small real estate boutique located in Chattanooga’s Southside. Crowe started the company 10 years ago, on the cusp of the recession, against the advice of many colleagues because he couldn’t find a good fit at any of the larger firms that operate in Chattanooga.

Uptown Firm is not a franchise but is all Crowe’s. He’s kept the company small and manageable, with less than 10 agents, according to his preference. Fortunately, size didn’t matter when Collier knocked on his door.

“It blows my mind that Ethan chose me and my team over the larger companies and agents who were in the running for this,” Crowe says. “But like Ethan, we’re a different kind of company. We’re not about corporate standards; we’ve taken a different approach.”

Camber Hill, a 20-home development off Hixson Pike, is among the Collier developments Crowe and his team will be selling. Crowe says the land has been cleared, the infrastructure is being installed and Collier is pulling the permits to build the houses, which will cost between $600,000 and $700,000.

Lot reservations are also being made. Although Collier has blueprints for the development, the builder is also doing semi-customs. “We’re ready to talk with potential buyers,” Crowe says.

Reside North, a group of 12 one-bedroom townhomes located on Harper Street in the North Shore district, is another Collier development Uptown Firm will be selling. Crowe and his team will begin accepting contracts on the $210,000 dwellings on May 5. They expect to sell out that day during an open house event.

“We have a slew of people waiting to buy those,” Crowe points out.

Other developments Uptown Firm will be selling include a townhome community located at Central Avenue and Main Street and a group of luxury townhomes in the heart of the Southside.

Uptown Firm will also handle sales of a sizable Collier development in Red Bank that will be making a splash in 2019.

Although Uptown Firm’s deal with Collier is expansive, it’s not exclusive. For example, The Group will continue to represent Collier at 100 at South Broad, a $20 million development of over 60 single-family homes located along the stretch of Broad Street between downtown and St. Elmo.

But Collier is looking forward to seeing the fruits of Uptown Firm’s labors on behalf of many of his current and future developments. “We’re building communities that are a bit more cutting edge - that are less familiar looking or common,” Collier says. “We’re glad to have Gary on the ground communicating that to people.