A South Carolina firm has started work on a 271-unit apartment complex on Chattanooga's trendy North Shore near the Tennessee River as the area continues to woo new residents.
The project, which is on Manufacturers Road across from the 2 North Shore retail center, is valued at more than $50 million, said Liz Palmer, director of development for Middle Street Partners in Tennessee.
Two buildings will make up the complex when completed in fall 2024, she said in a phone interview. A five-story structure will face Manufacturers Road while a four-story building opens up to the river, Palmer said.
Plans are to offer a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, she said. It's too early to provide rental rates, Palmer said.
"Based on location and the type of product we're delivering, it will be at the upper end of the market," she added.
The apartments, constructed by Chattanooga-based EMJ Corp., will sit on a portion of a tract of land that for many years was held by a group that included the late Chattanooga developer Allen Casey.
Casey, who was the founder of the Chattanooga Choo Choo complex on downtown's Southside in the early 1970s, later tried to develop nine acres off Manufacturers Road for the better part of two decades. He had envisioned a boat hotel project in which a crane would lift boats off the river and into a small lagoon.
Later, in 2004, he unveiled plans for a 98-room hotel and 60-unit condominium complex with a restaurant, though nothing was built. Still later, Casey bought a barge and floated it from Pittsburgh, docking it in front of the property with the intent of reworking it into a floating New Orleans-style restaurant and bar.
The barge became a lightning rod for community criticism after it sat for years and became dilapidated, and it was eventually removed from the riverfront. Casey was sued by investors in the property, and in 2018 much of the parcel was sold.
Palmer said that Charleston-based Middle Street Partners was attracted by the outdoor space along the river and nearby parks in addition to the retail space.
"You have incredible amenities at your fingertips," she said.
While there is an existing manufacturing plant adjacent to the planned apartment complex, Palmer said the development group doesn't see that as an issue.
"When you're developing in an emerging area, naturally you do have some historical issues," she said. "Ultimately, we think the entire North Shore will be redeveloped into what you see now where you can live, work and play."
David DeVaney, chief executive of NAI Charter Real Estate Corp. in Chattanooga, said the riverfront is "a great amenity," and he particularly cited the Tennessee Riverwalk. The city has plans to extend the Riverwalk adjacent to Manufacturers Road toward the Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District.
"Pedestrian pathways and the river -- it's a natural progress of development," he said in an earlier phone interview.
Beacon Cos., a Nashville developer, is eyeing the site of a fuel farm off Manufacturers Road for more than 700 new apartments. Also, Beacon earlier won approval to rezone an adjacent 7-acre vacant parcel, where it had proposed 350 new apartments in a $90 million project.
Palmer said that for Middle Street's project, some parking will go under the complex. Also, there will be surface parking, she said.
The North Shore apartments are the company's first in Chattanooga, though it wants to do more development, Palmer said. Middle Street also as offices in Atlanta, Orlando and Nashville.
"We're really focused on the Southeast," she said.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.