published Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

301-unit apartment complex planned in Ooltewah

A Knoxville developer plans to spend from $25 million to $30 million to build a 301-unit apartment complex in Ooltewah.

"Funding is ready to go, engineering's under way," said Travis Fuller, the project's chief manager for development group Belle Cos. "We've done some market studies that show a real need for class A apartments in the area."

The Chattanooga/Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission on Monday endorsed a zoning change for the proposed development. The nearly 21-acre lot sits off Ooltewah-Georgetown Road near Interstate 75.

Fuller described his development, dubbed Ooltewah Luxury Apartments, as high-end one-, two- and three-bedroom units that will run about 90 cents a square foot. The Ooltewah area has seen a jump in demand for such apartments, a trend Fuller said he expects to continue as major employers such as Volkswagen expand.

Before construction can begin on the 13-building complex, Fuller must develop plans for sewers for the complex. The previously agriculture-zoned site is unprepared for this scale of development, planners said. Once sewage treatment is available, Fuller said construction should begin and wrap up between 18 and 36 months later.

Regional planners had few concerns about the project. According to planning staff's report, the project falls well within the planned use for the area and traffic isn't expected to reach capacity for more than a decade.

Properties adjacent to the new development will be screened by shrubbery, evergreen trees and a vinyl-covered chain-link fence.

The Hamilton County Commission will decide whether to grant final approval to the project at its July 18 meeting.

Contact Carey O'Neil at coneil@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6525. Follow him at twitter.com/careyoneil.

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