Chattanooga planners approve zoning change for major East Brainerd residential project

Former Cigna office near Hamilton Place could be a new school with hundreds of new surrounding homes

One of North America's biggest privately-owned home building companies gained the support of an advisory planning board Monday for its plans for a $200 million residential development on one of the largest undeveloped sites in East Brainerd.

Empire Communities, which has already built more than 28,000 homes in 90 communities, is proposing to buy and develop more than 72 acres surrounding the former Cigna office complex on Goodwin Road, which the insurance company closed two years ago when it shifted its employees to remote work. Hamilton County is considering the 18-acre Cigna office site for a new school, and Empire is proposing to use the rest of the Cigna property, along with the adjacent former AMC theater complex, for a variety of residential projects.

Under the rezoning plans endorsed Monday by the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, the developer is proposing to build 230 single-family homes, 351 apartment units and 200 independent senior living units around the proposed new school.