published Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Developer eyes hill in Hixson for apartments, retail center

Scenic Land Co. wants to rezone 190 acres for apartments, stores and offices on this property adjacent to state Highway 153 and Boy Scout Road.
Scenic Land Co. wants to rezone 190 acres for apartments, stores and offices on this property adjacent to state Highway 153 and Boy Scout Road.
Photo by John Rawlston.

A Chattanooga development group plans to build what would be the largest Hixson residential and commercial project of its kind, installing hundreds of apartments and a retail center rivaling Northgate Mall.

Scenic Land Co. hopes to build a 280-unit apartment complex and 763,320 square feet of commercial space, including a movie theater, retail center and grocery store, according to preliminary plans. The 190-acre area sits undeveloped about two miles north of Northgate Mall near the intersection of state Highway 153 and U.S. Highway 27.

Duane Horton, president of Scenic Land Co., said he has letters of intent from apartment developers and a joint venture agreement with commercial developers for the project dubbed "Chattanooga Village." Though the acreage of the project rivals Hamilton Place mall, he said the proposed mix of retail, residential and office spaces would limit the scale.

But community concerns could stop the project from taking off. The land must be rezoned before any development can take place, meaning a potentially long period of study and citizen input.

"It's a pretty scenic area and it would screw up the area for sure," said Mike High, who lives in nearby Fairington Forest. "They'll probably get some opposition to it."

On top of that, the site is hilly and would be costly to flatten.

Tom DuPre, a developer who considered building a shopping center on the land in 2002, said the steep terrain will be a challenge.

"There truly are a lot of different users who want to get into the Hixson market and there's just very, very little sites to do that," he said. "There's not a flat site anywhere. They were gone a long time ago."

But the site's location makes it worth the difficulty, he said, and would open the center to Soddy-Daisy, Signal Mountain and counties north of Hamilton.

"There's always been demand," he said. "People living north of the river would perform a lot of their activities there if those services were available."

Despite potential hurdles, Horton said he's already talking with businesses interested in the site, but he wouldn't name them.

Plans indicate a large retail center will sit north of a plaza hosting three anchor businesses and 12 smaller storefronts. The proposed commercial area is only about 60,000 square feet smaller than Northgate, but Horton said its tenant mix will be substantially different.

CBL, which owns Hamilton Place, bought Northgate less than a month ago. CBL spokeswoman Katie Reinsmidt said the proposed development wouldn't affect plans to redesign the Northgate property.

"We'll just continue to do the best we can," she said. "Competition's a part of everyday business."

REZONING REQUIRED

The rezoning request will be made Monday at the monthly meeting of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

Before that rezoning can go through, a traffic study must be completed to determine whether the development would clog up the nearby roads. As the plan stands now, the center would have four entry points, three along Highway 153.

Horton said most traffic would stay away from the Dayton Boulevard and Boy Scout Road areas, but some nearby residents worry the development could slow down their streets.

When a similar commercial center was proposed for the site back in 2002, more than 40 area residents signed a petition against the project, largely citing traffic concerns.

Since 1991, the land has been looked at for at least three other projects.

Crown American Corp. proposed building a shopping center on the scale of Hamilton Place in 1991 and, in 2002, DuPre proposed a smaller commercial site. Around 2007, Hixson Methodist Church optioned the land for a possible church and community-oriented development, but decided against the move.

Jack and Carolyn Lonas own almost all of the property, which is now assessed at $2.5 million. They could not be reached Wednesday.

Gary Patrick, president of Sundown Properties, which owns a portion of the land, said there's a lot of potential for the site.

"That whole corridor is being developed," he said. "The whole community needs jobs and needs development, so hopefully it'll be approved."

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nucanuck said...

Interesting timing with pressures mounting on retail consumption nationally. Store closings are on the rise and shopping centers are under stress.

With talk of a depression as a real possibility what lender would want this risk at this time?

October 6, 2011 at 1:34 a.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

"Before that rezoning can go through, a traffic study must be completed to determine whether the development would clog up the nearby roads". - You don't need a traffic study to determine this. It will clog up the nearby roads.

October 6, 2011 at 9:01 a.m.
twharr said...

Great idea to destroy natural habitat for retail stores and apartments. I think I'll blame Obama for this too.

October 6, 2011 at 9:13 a.m.
ExecAsst said...

Agreed, this project would definitely clog up the roads. Most of us in the Hixson/Soddy Daisy area moved out here to get away from the commercialization and traffic tie-ups that came upon the areas around Hamilton Place. We wanted to preserve the nature and serenity of this area. I for one, would not be shopping at this new complex if it happens. We have all of the retail stores we need in the Hwy 153 and Northgate Mall areas. Whoever wants to start a petition for community input, please make it a go! I will sign as I believe most of the community in this area would too. Let's preserve the nature, that is why we came north of the river.

October 6, 2011 at 9:23 a.m.
CharlesMartel said...

Most of us in the Hixson/Soddy Daisy area moved out here to get away from the commercialization and traffic tie-ups that came upon the areas around Hamilton Place.

Except, the problems: you brought commercialization and traffic tie-ups with you. If you wanted Hixson and Soddy-Daisy to remain commercial and traffic-free then you should have stayed where you were.

As for this development, typical American sprawl. Not only should this not be approved, but no other rezoning, building permit, or public dollar should be issued or spent north of Access Rd/Ashland Terrace, east of Missionary Ridge, or west of Lookout Mountain. If you're not willing to go with draconian restrictions, then you have no logical reason to oppose this development.around Hamilton Place.

October 6, 2011 at 10:03 a.m.
esaletnik said...

So as the closed Bi-Lo's Winn Dixies Old Regal Cinema's remain unoccupied and taking up space they are going to build further out and infringe on residential neighborhoods.

October 6, 2011 at 11:03 a.m.
Onceuponatime said...

I agree with Esaletnik. Instead of building a new sprawling campus refurbished already standing buildings. Hwy 153 is prime for shopping centers but I agree ExecAsst most of us did move to Hixson or Soddy to get away from the craziness of downtown or Hamilton Place. We are looking to move out to Hixson soon and we would be so upset if this shopping center got built.

October 6, 2011 at 11:52 a.m.
sbm362 said...

I'm right with you, esaletnik and onceuponatime, on using what we already have. Double thumbs up to both of you.

October 6, 2011 at 12:18 p.m.

There's 3 empty grocery store buildings within a short distance of that location...well, actually, one of them has a Halloween store in it for a bit.

I dunno, but before they can get it to work, they better plan on repaving the roads around there. And why don't they fix up Northpoint on the way?

October 6, 2011 at 12:54 p.m.
Shock said...

I live in the Middle Valley area. I think this shopping center will raise my property value and I think Hwy 153 is much better designed to handle a heavier traffic flow than either Gunbarrel Rd or Shallowford Rd.

October 6, 2011 at 1:14 p.m.
ExecAsst said...

To Charles Martel:

In regards to your comment about those of us who migrated to the Hixson/Soddy Daisy area, that we should have "stayed where we were" if we didn't want traffic tie-ups and commercialization because we brought them with us. You are wrong! First of all, we didn't bring them with us. Second, all of us who pay taxes in this county have a right to live wherever we want. Third, we did not ask for more businesses to be added. At this point, the commercialization in Hixson and Soddy Daisy seems to be about right (in talking with others) and people seem happy, but bring in more like this development being considered and it will be too much. Can everyone imagine what the Hwy 153 hill (leading down to Boyscout Rd) will look like at 5pm if you have a major development there? Chaos, numerous traffic lights, backups. . . definitely would see more road rage! Those of us who moved out here don't want or need the businesses anymore than you do CharlesMartel.

October 6, 2011 at 2:39 p.m.

They'll build it and the shopping zombies will follow.

October 6, 2011 at 3:55 p.m.
flee123 said...

Rezoning & building a new development here is a terrible idea! The homes that would sit directly behind this new development would see their value plummet and the traffic along Highway 153 would be a nightmare. Why waste money on clearing away the woodlands, building a new shopping complex, and conducting traffic studies, when there are several semi-abandoned shopping centers just down the road? The longer that they sit empty, the more Hixson's property values will decline in the long run. Invest in the community by revitalizing those commercial areas, Scenic Land Company.

October 6, 2011 at 3:58 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Business follows density. When enough people move to the wide open spaces, business follows. Still want the country?...move even farther out.

Soon you will be spending lots of time and big bucks on gas for your daily commute as you clog the roadways.

Sprawl is a societal desease that is bad for America and as energy prices continue to rise, will eventually destroy the values and desireability of outlying properties.

Outer suberbia will become the new slums.

October 6, 2011 at 4:07 p.m.
Littleoleme2 said...

I live within 3 miles of the proposed site and earn a pretty nice living. Build it and I'll shop there three or four times a day. The same people that are against it are now shipping at Target, Wal mart and eating at the Longhorn. I'm tired of having to go toward Hamilton Place for finer foods/shopping.

October 6, 2011 at 4:41 p.m.
librul said...

Developers: Go build in hell.

October 7, 2011 at 12:45 p.m.
CharlesMartel said...

First of all, we didn't bring them with us.

You didn't bring your desires/needs or car(s) with you when you moved to Hixson/Soddy-Daisy? Really?

Of course you did, and those things added to the commercialization and traffic tie-ups that you now experience, and they will only get worse. If you truly want to avoid commercialization and traffic-tie ups your only option is to live on a self sustaining farm.

I challenge you to do so.

October 7, 2011 at 3:15 p.m.
ExecAsst said...
--"You didn't bring your desires/needs or car(s) with you when you moved to Hixson/Soddy-Daisy? Of course you did, and those things added to the commercialization and traffic tie-ups that you now experience, and they will only get worse."-CharlesMartel

You are right about one thing only, it WILL get worse with any more developments. As I mentioned before (maybe you weren't listening), I and others I have talked to don't seem to think it's too bad right now, but it will be if a new development such as this comes into play. It sounds like you may be the one who needs to live on a self-sustaining farm since you don't want anyone else coming out to live in what you must feel is your personal area.

October 10, 2011 at 10:08 a.m.
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