published Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Student housing planned near UTC


by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    Student housing planned near UTC
BY THE NUMBERS

$201,000: Purchase price for the three properties

180: Number of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students who may be put in hotels temporarily this year

3: Number of lots to be developed

Source: UTC, Chattanooga

Kanta Chaudhari has heard the complaints from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students for years -- no place to live.

The Chaudhari family, owners of the Kankus gas station on Central Avenue near the UTC campus, want to do something about it. They hope to build apartments for students on McCallie and Central avenues right across from their store.

"It's been our dream for a long time," Chaudhari said. "The dorms aren't enough for students."

During its regularly scheduled meeting tonight, the City Council is set to vote on a resolution authorizing the sale of three parcels of property on the corner of McCallie and Central avenues for a total of $201,000.

The lots are part of surplus property the city wants to sell, said Danny Thornton, Chattanooga's property manager.

Under a state-mandated process, four proposals on plans for the properties were sent to the city and all four wanted to develop student housing, he said.

"They realize there's a need," Thornton said.

UTC spokesman Chuck Cantrell said there will be about 180 students placed in hotels across the downtown area this year because of a lack of beds. A recently completed study by a consultant found the college may need up to 900 additional beds in the future, Cantrell said.

"We absolutely need affordable housing near campus," he said.

But on a wider scale, having more housing close to UTC means more population density and could lead to grocery stores, restaurants and other service-oriented shops, he said.

Chaudhari said the family hopes to break ground on the project within six months. She said they still are waiting for everything to be lined up with the city. Once that happens, the Chaudharis can begin getting loans and talking to construction companies and architects, she said.

The student housing could be a five-story building with a shopping mall that could house some small restaurants.

"For years and years, we've thought we wanted something for students," she said.

Contact Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CliffHightower.

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