published Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Chattanooga planners OK East Brainerd Road project

Mike Price is seen in this file photo.
Mike Price is seen in this file photo.
Jessica Lowry

Construction will begin as early as May 1 on a nearly five-acre East Brainerd Road office and commercial development, pending Chattanooga City Council approval in March.

The residentially zoned site, if rezoned for commercial development, could add to several blocks of offices and stores.

No businesses have committed to occupy the 19,200-square-foot proposed development. But civil engineer Mike Price, who advocated the project at Monday's Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency meeting, said he had no concerns about the spaces filling up quickly.

Several commercial spaces sit empty along East Brainerd Road. But Price said this site, at the intersection of Panorama Drive, is far more attractive to businesses.

"One of the key components of this development is it has a traffic signal," he said. "If you look anywhere up and down Gunbarrel, East Brainerd Road, traffic signals are like gold."

The county planning agency approved the project, sending it to the City Council for final approval.

But Regional Planning Commissioner and City Councilman Jack Benson worried the development could set a precedent for changing the road's residential areas all the way to Gunbarrel Road. Benson, city mayoral representative Beverly Johnson and two other members of the 15-person commission voted against the project, citing concerns about traffic and disturbance of nearby homes.

Price said their fears are unnecessary, and the project was vetted and approved by traffic and landscaping experts.

"There's a lot of hyperbolic things being said, 'It can't work, it can't work,'" Price said. "The professionals say it works."

NORMAL PARK DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT

The planning agency also approved a high-end 40-home development in the Hill City neighborhood.

The Perry North housing development is planned for the 1000 block of Dallas Road, within the high-demand and quickly growing Normal Park Museum Magnet School district. The homes are expected to sell for $239,000 to $500,000.

Vincent Morse, who owns the development company overseeing the project, called his plan the best use for the area.

"We're single-family home builders and we're also community planners. We are a balance," he said. "It's a win all the way through for everybody."

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