A Virginia-based investment group plans to build 102 apartments on East Main and Madison Streets in Chattanooga which, if built, would be one of the biggest apartment additions in the downtown area in decades.
Chattanooga planners gave their stamp of approval Monday to Ivy Lane Advisors to put 50 apartments in an existing warehouse on the west side of Madison Street and build a new, three-story building on the east side of the street for another 52 units.
"We're very excited," said Jack Smith, capital matters member at Ivy Lane Advisors. "We already own an apartment complex in Soddy-Daisy and we were looking for new places to develop."
The Madison Street Apartments will include more than 88,000 square feet of apartment space, including 24 studios, 10 loft studios, 38 one-bedroom units and 30 two-bedroom apartments, according to the site plan submitted to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.
The 4-acre lot will also include a 1,800 square foot retail space, parking for 157 cars and a pool. Ivy Lane Advisors is working with Chattanooga-based Hefferlin and Kronenberg Architects to develop the complex.
Smith said the company will build the project in phases -- starting with the renovation of the existing warehouse.
"It's market-rate housing in an interesting area," he said. "We think Southside Chattanooga has a lot going for it."
When complete, the Madison Street Apartments will be one of the largest downtown apartment complexes, even topping the 100-unit, $11 million Walnut Commons apartments that are slotted to be finished later this year at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.
Jim Williamson, vice president of planning and development at River City Company, said the demand for downtown apartments has been on the rise, especially since the 360-unit Cameron Hill Apartments were torn down in 2006 to make room for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's new home office.
"I know there is a demand for rental housing, especially in the right price range," he said. "Those Cameron Hill units have never been replaced, and that's not even considering the city's recent growth."
Nearby business owner Charles Stansell, who owns Atlas Bolt and Supply, had some initial concerns about the plan -- he wanted to make sure it wouldn't block his parking lot -- but said he's glad the new apartment complex is coming in.
"If you know anything about Main Street, it seems like it's the hottest place in the world," he said. "If you've got an old warehouse, sell it and someone will make apartments out of it. I've been here since 1976. It wasn't the best neighborhood in the world in 1976, but now it's pretty nice."