Historic YMCA building to become modern social club, Common House


Common House will be at 1517 Mitchell Ave. The building is 30,000 square feet and has four stories, including a rooftop patio. | NOOGAtoday

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Chattanooga’s historic former YMCA building — built in 1929 — will soon become a modern social club. Think NYC’s Soho House or a country club but more urban, contemporary + inclusive.

Two Charlottesville, Virginia, businessmen Derek Sieg and Ben Pfinsgraff are bringing the new club, Common House, to the Southside in late 2020.

We took a tour Thursday + got the details for ya.

So, what exactly is Common House?

It’s a “contemporary social club designed for connection,” or more plainly, it’s a membership-only hang out with a ton of special amenities.

Common house

Caption: The former YMCA gym, which has a stage, can be used for concerts that will be open to the public. | NOOGAtoday

OK. Got it. Now tell me about amenities.

The first floor has an event space, which is available to members for private occasions. The social hall and event space is called Ruby Hall and can accommodate 300+ guests.

The terrace has a lovely view of Lookout Mountain.

lookout mt

Thursday the weather obstructed some of the views, but who doesn’t love a cool roof? | NOOGAtoday


  • Programs + events
  • Live music
  • Restaurant + bar
  • Rooftop terrace
  • Coworking space
  • Podcast studio
  • Conference rooms
  • Gym
  • Steam room
  • Bocce court
  • Concierge
  • Parking
  • Outdoor pool
  • Hotel rooms
  • Childcare

Wow. Cool. How much will it cost?

The local costs haven’t been officially nailed down yet, but you can check out the other prices in other markets.

On a hardhat tour Thursday afternoon, both Sieg and Pfinsgraff mentioned multiple times that the purpose of the club is to be social and inclusive, and ultimately the team said it will become what locals and stakeholders want. They don’t want the “financial hurdles” of country clubs.

“Part of our strategy with dues is to make it as affordable as possible. Part of our appeal is that we are a diverse, inclusive place.” Derek Sieg

Who is behind the project?

Derek Sieg is a writer + filmmaker who has worked in Los Angeles and London before moving into the business and finance side of things.

Ben Pfinsgraff is a former MLB player for the Phillies who went to business school at UVA before getting into investment banking and the hospitality industry.

CH owners

Derek Sieg, left, and Ben Pfinsgraff fell in love with the 1929 building after getting connected to Chattanooga through a connection with Walk2Campus. | NOOGAtoday

What else do I need to know?

  • Anyone — not just members — can rent the spaces for use.
  • Music events there will also be open to the public.
  • The food will be approachable but elevated + locally sourced. You could get a burger for less than $10 or a $25-steak served to you anywhere in the 30,000-square-foot, four-story building.
  • Common House started in Charlottesville, Virginia, and there’s also one in the works in Richmond.
  • Sieg + Pfinsgraff are going into mid-size growing, changing cities so Chattanooga fits well.
  • There will be programming all day, every day from classes to wine tastings.
  • Wellness programs will be group focused, but there will also be space for traditional, individual machines.
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