Sen. Bob Corker says decaying barge mars Riverfront, asks community be considered in permitting process

The barge on Chattanooga's waterfront is supposed to be renovated into a restaurant. (Photo: Staff)

Authored By James Harrison

Sen. Bob Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, is weighing in on an increasingly controversial tumbledown barge moored along the city’s Riverfront.  

The boat, which was floated down from Pittsburgh by developer Allen Casey in 2009, was originally supposed to be renovated into a restaurant. 

Instead, it’s rotted in place for four years. 

With the permitting process for the ramshackle watercraft under review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Corker, who played a key role in the redevelopment of the Riverfront as mayor, wrote a letter asking Lt. Col. James DeLapp to consider the “significant negative effects” of the barge on the greater community as he reconsiders its licensing.

Recently, the permit that allows the rickety barge to be moored on the river has come under review for being in noncompliance. 

“Chattanooga has undertaken significant actions in recent years to develop its downtown,” Corker wrote. “These efforts have served to make the Chattanooga Riverfront the jewel in the downtown crown and have helped attract new business and tourists to the area. The beautification of the Riverfront has been integral to this process, and it would be disappointing to see a dilapidated barge mar the otherwise picturesque area.”

Last month, a YouTube video of the dilapidated barge began circulating around Chattanooga, suggesting it had gone to rack and ruin and needed to be floated downriver. 

Leaders in the business community have called the barge an eyesore and suggested its owner is being a “terrible neighbor” to Chattanooga for leaving it to decay.