published Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Tax break OK'd for downtown Chattanooga apartments


by Cliff Hightower
The Chattanooga Bank Building at Eighth and Market streets, slated to be part of a new apartment complex, faces parking challenges.
The Chattanooga Bank Building at Eighth and Market streets, slated to be part of a new apartment complex, faces parking challenges.
Photo by John Rawlston.
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BY THE NUMBERS

$7 million: Amount of money to be put into rehabilitating the old Chattanooga Bank Building

200: Number of estimated residents in the new apartment building

74: Number of apartments in the new complex

Source: Ray Moss Development Inc.

The landmark Chattanooga Bank Building downtown will be transformed into a 74-unit apartment complex after the City Council approved a tax break for the developers.

"There's such a demand for apartments downtown," said Kim White, president of River City Co.

The council voted 6-2 Tuesday night to allow a 12-year tax abatement for the new apartment development in the vacant office building at Eighth and Market streets. Taxes will still be paid on the property itself and also on retail and commercial developments going into the property.

White said there would be retail on the first floor of the complex while the 11th floor would serve as the corporate headquarters for a major company. She declined to identify the corporation.

The abatement would affect only the residential portion of the property, she said.

Plenty of debate from council members preceded the vote. Councilman AndraƩ McGary and Councilwoman Deborah Scott voted no. Councilman Russell Gilbert abstained.

Scott said the property did not need a tax abatement because of the income level of the clientele the apartment complex is expected to serve.

The developers of the property, Ray Moss Development, said the rental fees would be set between $1,100 to $1,300. The apartment complex would offer one- and two-bedroom apartments.

McGary said he wanted low-income options also considered.

The developers said they plan to invest $7 million into the project.

Trey Moss, with the development company, told the council the company expects to save about $150,000 a year on their taxes with the abatement. He said the company is interested in giving the vacant building a new life.

"I think it's something we'd like to give back to Chattanooga," he said.

In other business, the council voted 8-1 Tuesday night for a city charter change allowing the establishment of a permanent auditor and audit committee for Chattanooga. The item will go on the November ballot for a vote by Chattanooga residents.

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