published Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Red Bank apartment project faces neighborhood opposition

  • photo
    Architect's rendering of The Oaks on Stringer's Ridge

AT A GLANCE

What: The Oaks on Stringer’s Ridge

Where: 14 acres near the 1900 block of Ashmore Avenue in Red Bank

Cost: $22 million

Units: 250 to 300 apartments

Source: BlueStar Properties

A Chattanooga developer is planning to build the first new major apartment complex in Red Bank in years — much to the dismay of neighbors.

The $22 million complex, dubbed The Oaks on Stringer's Ridge, is planned for 15 acres of undeveloped land along Ashmore Avenue. The Oaks will include between 250 and 300 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in 10 buildings, as well as a clubhouse and pool, said developer Marcus Lyons, president and CEO of BlueStar Properties.

But more than 100 Red Bank residents have signed a petition against the apartments, citing worries about traffic, storm water, property values and neighborhood safety. Some neighbors are asking the city of Red Bank to deny a request to rezone an acre and a half of abutting land, hoping the denial will derail the project.

"We like our neighborhood like it is," said Gigi Parker, whose family has lived in the area for 75 years. "It's an old neighborhood, and we don't want to change it."

But Chattanooga homebuilder Jay Bell, who owns the land where the apartments are planned, said the project will go forward whether or not the 1.5 acre section is rezoned, because the rest of the land is already set up to allow apartments.

"It's been zoned for apartments for 30 years," he said. "It's not whether or not we do apartments, it's whether or not we do it right."

Bell plans to sell the land to Lyons, who will build and manage the property. Rezoning the additional parcel will give Lyons more room for open space and amenities, Bell said, and would allow him to build a higher-quality development. With or without the rezoning, the apartments are going up, he said.

But not without listening to neighbors' concerns, Lyons said. The rezoning vote was originally scheduled for the Red Bank board of commissioners' meeting last week, and was delayed until March 18 so that Lyons could commission a traffic study on the impact of The Oaks.

"We definitely hear and are sympathetic with their complaints and concerns," he said. "We're taking the correct actions to ensure we do everything possible to appease them. They're worried, and I understand that. At the end of the day, I think we can work together to where everyone is happy."

Bell said he doesn't expect the apartment complex to have a significant impact on the neighborhood's traffic flow. But Parker said she thinks the complex could easily bring an additional 600 cars to the neighborhood, and she doesn't see how Ashmore Avenue can handle that increase.

"I'm not against apartments being built, I just don't want them built here," she said. "There are other places. We want to keep our neighborhood old and quaint like it's always been."

But Bell and Lyons said The Oaks will be a good thing for Red Bank.

"We're taking a piece of land that is dormant now and putting it on the tax roles in a very positive manner," Bell said. "And the apartments they want to build are of the highest quality, right at the top end of the rental ladder."

Lyons expects The Oaks on Stringer's Ridge will appeal to young professionals and college graduates, and said rents for a one-bedroom apartment will range between $800 and $950 a month. He expects to rent two-bedrooms for between $1,050 and $1,200 a month and will put three-bedroom on the market at $1,350 a month.

The apartments will be set apart from the neighboring homes by several hundred feet, Bell said. There's no completion date yet on the project, because the developers want to take as much time as is needed to work out all the kinks, Bell added.

"I think it's a big deal for Red Bank," he said. "We want to make sure we do it right."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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