• Location: Ooltewah-Ringgold Road
• Units: 312 apartments
• Cost: $32 million
• Builder: Capstone Building Corp.; Brown Brothers is doing site grading
• Financing: Community and Southern Bank of Atlanta
• Developers: Belle Investment Co. of Knoxville; The Wells Group of Atlanta
Source: Belle Investment Co.
Knoxville developer Travis Fuller is coming home of sorts as his company erects what he calls the largest apartment complex ever raised in Ooltewah.
Fuller, who graduated from Ooltewah High School in 1991, has started construction on a $32 million project holding 312 apartments off Ooltewah-Ringgold Road.
"It's good to come home," he said this week as he walked the 22.5-acre site where earth movers were flattening the tract.
His company, Belle Investment, sought a third-party market study to ensure there's demand for the one- to three-bedroom apartments, which will rent from $789 to $1,350 a month, Fuller said.
The Legends at White Oak, featuring 16 three-story buildings, are slated for completion by the end of 2014, though the first few structures will open in about eight months, according to Fuller.
The gated community will have a couple of small lakes, a clubhouse, pool and dog park, he said.
"It will have an outstanding top-of-the-line amenity package," Fuller said.
Greg Gilbert, the company's vice president, cited the job growth in the Chattanooga area as a key to the project.
"It's the best location in Tennessee," said Gilbert, who met Fuller while each was recovering from kidney transplants 14 years ago. "It's got demand, need and location."
Fuller said that having lived in the Chattanooga area and understanding its economic landscape helped in terms of the project. He cited the continued growth of Ooltewah and its environs, which now include the nearby Volkswagen auto assembly plant and Amazon's distribution center.
Also, Cleveland, Tenn., isn't far away and it's experiencing an economic uptick as well, Fuller said.
"It's not a far drive," he said.
Jay Chapman, president of Birmingham, Ala.-based general contractor Capstone Building Corp., said his company worked in Chattanooga recently when it raised the City Green apartment complex off Dayton Boulevard.
"This is right in our wheelhouse," he said about apartment building work.
Fuller said apartment construction is "where the financing is right now."
Earlier this year, two out-of-town developers proposed major apartment complexes in East Brainerd that would add more than 500 units to Chattanooga's rental market within a couple of miles from one another.
In addition, downtown Chattanooga has about a half dozen apartment projects underway.
Close to The Legends project is one of Hamilton County's biggest proposed mixed-use developments. Cambridge Square is going up on 135 acres off Lee Highway near the entrance to the Honors golf course.
That $100 million development is to hold single-family homes and townhouses.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.