Apartment developer on Chattanooga’s hot North Shore fights rival project

Claims waterfront apartments will block views along the river

Staff photo by Mike Pare / Construction of a new apartment complex is shown on Chattanooga's North Shore on Tuesday. The owner of the tract is fighting plans by another developer for a seven-level building in front of it along the Tennessee River downtown.
Staff photo by Mike Pare / Construction of a new apartment complex is shown on Chattanooga's North Shore on Tuesday. The owner of the tract is fighting plans by another developer for a seven-level building in front of it along the Tennessee River downtown.

The owner of a North Shore tract where up to five stories of new apartments are rising is fighting a ruling that allows another developer to put a seven-level complex nearby, claiming it will limit views along the Tennessee River.

Mill River Operating Co. is asking the Chattanooga City Council to strike down a zoning panel's earlier decision that granted a one-story addition to the rival project at 418 Manufacturers Road.

"Mill River is an adjoining property owner and is aggrieved by the (Form-Based Zoning Committee) decision, which will lead to an increase in density of apartments, traffic congestion and will limit the scenic views along the river," said a letter requesting the appeal hearing.

But Joseph Wingfield, who owns the property that looks across to Ross's Landing, said in a phone interview that plans are to support the variance his project received earlier this summer at the City Council appeal hearing Sept. 12.

"We're planning to move ahead," Wingfield said about his project, which is to build a seven-story complex with 275 to 300 apartments.

ABOUT THE HEARING

The appeal hearing will take place before the Chattanooga City Council at 6 p.m. Sept. 12.

The North Shore is seeing an array of new and planned housing as developers cite its location along the river and proximity to the central city.

Mill River affiliate Middle Street Partners started work late last year on a 271-unit apartment complex on a vacant tract also on Manufacturers Road across from the 2 North Shore retail center and immediately north of the Wingfield parcel.

The Middle Street Partners project, valued at more than $50 million, will feature a five-story structure and a four-story building with completion slated for fall 2024, said Liz Palmer, director of development for Middle Street Partners in Tennessee, in an earlier telephone interview.

Mill River said in the appeal that standards in the city's form-based code are intended to achieve a goal of providing a diversity of housing options. But the Wingfield plan doesn't provide such diversity, the letter said.

"It only increases the density of housing already on the site with no showing of such need," the letter said.

Also, the riverfront zone is to accommodate development in a manner that addresses and maintains views to the river, Mill River said in the appeal.

"Granting the request would actually increase density adjacent to the river, provide the same housing as already exists in the area and detract from the statutory benefits of 'scenic views along the river,'" the letter said.

Mill River additionally claimed the variance granted by the committee to Wingfield's property increases the number of floors to eight rather than seven.

"It is clear from the application that the request is for five residential stories and three parking garages, contrary to the requested modification," the letter said.

But officials with Wingfield's project said at the original June hearing that plans are to have two levels of parking, with one underground, beneath the apartments with a total of seven levels.

Wingfield, who is from Chattanooga, said at the hearing his family has held the 6.3-acre vacant riverfront tract since 2008.

"We always hoped to develop it," he said. "We never found the right partner."

However, his family plans to team with Southeastern Development of Augusta, Georgia, Wingfield said about the project that's estimated at between $60 million and $70 million.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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