Thank you to the Chattanooga Times Free Press for the wonderful article on the origin and development of ArchWay:
Michele Peterson lost all her money and many nights of sleep when she discovered that she had renovated houses with Chinese-made wallboard that made people sick.
She said she spent her last dime in 2012 correcting that work, but she survived.
Now the 45-year-old local businesswoman uses her experience to help others.
Peterson purchased the Former Glass House Collective building with plans to teach marketing to youth, and she’ll open it in May.
“This is redemption,” said Peterson,who also owns the Urban Lawn on Main Street and REMI Home Elevators in Mountain Home, Tenn. “I am going to use my currency, which is my time to share what I understood.”
Peterson will host a grand opening May 11 and announce the building’s new name and the youth who coined it. That person gets $250. She’s also awarding $250 to the young person who designed a new logo for it.
Branding the building is just the beginning, she said. The site at 2523 Glass St. will be where she teaches young people to brand doughnuts, coffee and lemonade and give them an opportunity to sell those things.
Peterson wants to hosts podcasts about business, product placement and marketing, and she wants to mentor youth at the site. She says she’s also open to suggestions and plans to get community input about activities when renovations are complete.
“We’re still evolving,” she said. “We’re letting [the building] turn like a ship and not like a car. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Senior carpenter Tim Webb said he’s been working off and on at the site for the past six months, installing new wallboard and laying new hardwood floors.
From 2012 until December 2014, the building was the cornerstone for revitalization in a neighborhood known for poverty and violence.
The Chattanooga Comprehensive Gang Assessment listed the area as having one of the highest levels of gang activity in the city.
According to the report, published in 2012, more than half of Glass Street area residents are unemployed, with a median household income of $13,991, three times less than the $45,408 median income for the county.
Peterson hopes to generate more economic investment in the area and transfer her knowledge of business to residents. She wants the building to be a place where youth can apply the math and English lessons they learn in school.
“We want to explain why this is important and how to apply it, rather than have people memorize answers and then test them to death,” she said.
Katherine Currin and Teal Thibaud were among the three founders of Glass House Collective, the group that previously occupied the building. The nonprofit organization moved into 2523 Glass St. in 2012 and started renovating the building while announcing its intent to bring economic development and safety to the entire community.
They had block parties and brainstorming conferences for community improvement. But it all came to a halt in December 2014 when the building’s floor collapsed during a Christmas party. The building stood vacant from December 2014 until Peterson purchased it in July 2015.
According to the Hamilton County Assessor’s Office, Peterson purchased the Glass House Collective building and the park property next to it in July 2015 for $25,000. The total value of the 3,350-square-foot site is $70,000, according to the assessor’s office. Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, which previously owned the building, estimated in 2015 the building needed at least $60,000 in repairs. Peterson declined to say the cost of renovation.
Thibaud, now executive director of Glass House Collective, commended Peterson for her work to revitalize the building and the neighborhood.
“She is going to help us bring Glass Street back to life,” Thibaud said.
She said Glass House Collective, which now meets at 2501 Glass St., will not continue to hold its meetings in the renovated building and is looking for a new location.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at [email protected] or 423-757-6431.