Chattanooga, Tenn. - Construction has begun on a 13,290 square foot retail center in Hixson to serve as the new home of Crye-Leike, Realtors' Hixson branch office and Realty Title & Escrow Company, Inc.

The 2.75 acre site, located at 5870 Highway 153 in Chattanooga, is being developed by Harold E. Crye, chief executive officer and co-founder of Crye-Leike, Realtors, the largest real estate company in Tennessee and the Mid-South. The project is valued at $1.6 million and is projected to be completed by November 2003.

Crye purchased the property for $305,000 from Michael and Tamra Johnson, local homebuilders in the area. The property, located one block from the new Wal-Mart Super Center, is zoned R-4 which gives flexibility to use the site as a commercially zoned retail center, says Crye.

The Strauss Company, Inc. of Chattanooga is serving as the general contractor and Billingsley Architecture of Chattanooga is the architect. March Adams & Associates, Inc. is serving as the civil engineer with the site work being completed by Shelton Construction. The lender for the project is Capitol Bank of Ft. Oglethorpe, Ga.

"We have been searching for a while for a better location for our Hixson branch office," said Crye. "The Johnson property was not on the market for sale but our offer to purchase their property was with the intent to relocate from our current location behind the Northgate Commercial Center, which is not as visible as we would like. This new location gives us excellent exposure with the new traffic generated from the widening of Highway 153."

Crye-Leike's Hixson branch office will occupy 7,500 sq. ft. in this new company-owned retail center. In comparison, Crye-Leike's Hixson office is currently leasing 5,000 sq. ft. of office space at 104 Northgate Commercial Center, a location they have maintained since December 1997 when Crye-Leike acquired Huffaker, Realtors.

"We are busting at the seams," says Kathy Tucker, managing broker. "The move will offer 33 percent more office space, providing greater opportunities for Crye-Leike to serve the real estate needs of this growing Hixson community as well as to expand Crye-Leike's Hixson sales force to 58 sales associates."

"Our new facilities will feature state of the art technology that will meet the needs of our independent agents who are tech savvy and will feature more private office space which is a valuable asset in recruiting more top producers for our sales team," says Tucker who also is president-elect of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors.

"Crye-Leike's office expansion is at a perfect time. Our agents have noticed an increase in residential and commercial sales over the past six to eight months which we attribute to select Hixson areas on the north side of the Tennessee River gaining access to sewer line hook ups, an improvement that was initiated a few years ago."

Realty Title & Escrow Company, Inc. also will open a 1,200 sq. ft. branch office in Crye-Leike's retail center, the third in a stream of branch offices planned in the Greater Chattanooga area. Realty Title conducts closings for the sale, financing and refinancing of residential and commercial properties with a focus on title insurance and closing and escrow services to real estate professionals, including mortgage lenders, real estate agents, builders and developers in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia and Kentucky.

The remaining 4,590 sq. ft. within Crye-Leike's retail center is planned for retail-sized users, says Crye, and is available for lease from 1,500 sq. ft.

For leasing information on this property, contact Ron Renegar, commercial manager of Crye-Leike Commercial & Property Management at 423/892-1515.

Crye-Leike (, a full service real estate company for 26 years, is the nation's 13th largest real estate company. It has a network of over 2,300 sales associates and 63 branch and franchise offices located in 34 counties throughout a six-state southern region in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky and Florida.

Crye-Leike of Chattanooga, Inc. has 11 branch and franchise offices in seven (7) counties within the Greater Chattanooga area: Bradley, Hamilton, McMinn, Meigs, Rhea and Roane counties, including Catoosa County in North Georgia. Sales associates within the Chattanooga area currently total over 300. Crye-Leike of Chattanooga sold 3,234 units in 2002 with a sales volume of $395.20 million.

Realty Title & Escrow Company, Inc. is a division of Crye-Leike and is headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn. Realty Title, in business since 1985, has 18 branch offices and a staff of over 60 employees who serve 27 counties in West, Middle and Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Mississippi.