published Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Developer proposes $40 million downtown Chattanooga riverfront project

A Nashville company is eyeing one of the biggest housing and retail developments ever proposed for downtown Chattanooga's riverfront.

The project, estimated at $40 million, would put about 70 cottage homes and 200 apartments on an 11-acre waterfront site just across Riverfront Parkway from the old Newton Chevrolet dealership near M.L. King Boulevard.

"We've been drawn to downtown Chattanooga," said Aaron White, a principal in Evergreen Real Estate. "We've been looking for something the last four years or so. We're excited about it."

White said that if the proposal gets the required zoning, the project would start in early 2014 and go up in phases over five to seven years, depending on demand.

An adjacent waterfront landowner who has proposed new housing on his site said he's talking with Evergreen and the results could push ahead the development of his property.

"It's a bigger story than that one piece of property," said Chattanooga developer Eugene "Buck" Schimpf, who has proposed the Cameron Harbor housing and boat dock project.

Kim White, who heads the nonprofit downtown redevelopment group River City Co., said she has seen Evergreen's plans and they make a lot of sense.

"No doubt we do need housing," she said. The site is "an important piece of property."

Vulcan Materials Co., which formerly operated at the now-vacant site, has a contract to sell the property to Evergreen.

White, the Evergreen principal, said the property needs to be rezoned from manufacturing, which requires the OK of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Planning Commission. A hearing is planned for Oct. 14.

The stand-alone, single-family cottages would rise closest to the Tennessee River. They'll be two or three stories high and range from 2,000 to 2,500 square feet in size, with two-car garages, White said. Prices haven't been set, he said.

Behind the cottages near Molly Lane would go two four-story buildings holding the apartments, which would range from one to three bedrooms.

There's room for another building that could hold retail space and a parking garage, the Evergreen official said.

He said downtown is positioned to continue to grow.

"When I stay in Chattanooga, I love to stay downtown," White said, noting he likes to run on the Riverwalk and walk to dinner. He said he already has talked to the city about a proposed new stretch of Riverwalk going through his property. Also, plans include a potential trailhead on the waterfront near where M.L. King intersects with Riverfront Parkway.

He said his company has built similar housing in Nashville. Evergreen also has worked in Knoxville and Chattanooga.

Next door, at Cameron Harbor, Schimpf has proposed an $80 million mixed-use development. The first phase, a Spring Hill Suites hotel, was built by Chattanooga-based hotel developer 3H Group.

Schimpf also has proposed townhouses, condominiums and boat docks. He declined to comment further on his talks with Evergreen.

Kim White, who said she is no relation to the Evergreen principal, said the company is thought of highly in Nashville.

"We've checked him out pretty well," she said. "I'm thrilled someone of this quality and caliber has that property."

Contact staff writer Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-67318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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