Living on the waterfront ... Long, winding road leads to $100 million Cameron Harbor

Living on the waterfront ... Long, winding road leads to $100 million Cameron Harbor

October 26th, 2014 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Cement is poured at the Cameron Harbor development along Riverside Drive.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

An excavator removes dirt from the Cameron Harbor site.

An excavator removes dirt from the Cameron Harbor...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Project timeline

* 2006 - WinPar Hospitality LLC of Orlando buys part of the former Jones-Blair Paint Co. property off Riverfront Parkway and proposes large mixed-use development. But WinPar files Chapter 7 bankruptcy before work begins.

* 2007 - A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge orders that Chattanooga developer Eugene "Buck" Schimpf or his nominee could be conveyed WinPar's interest in the site.

* 2008 - Schimpf announces plans for townhouses, a hotel, condominiums and boat docks on the downtown waterfront site.

* 2011 - Work under way on first phase of project, a SpringHill Suites by Marriott

* 2013 - A Nashville company proposes cottage homes and apartments on an 11-acre Vulcan Materials site next to Cameron Harbor. Evergreen Real Estate and Cameron Harbor LLC collaborate in the development.

* 2014 - City planners OK housing at the site; work begins on new residences

Cameron Harbor price points

* Apartments - $800 to $2,000 a month

* Single-family cottages - $319,500 to $550,000

* Townhomes - $1 million to $1.25 million

Source: Project developers

Becky Musgrave and her husband are empty nesters since their daughter went off to college, so they figured it was time to downsize from their Mountain Shadows home in East Brainerd.

Their choice was Cameron Harbor, a $100 million development that will hold the biggest addition to downtown Chattanooga waterfront housing in nearly three decades when complete.

"It's the ability to walk out and enjoy the downtown," said Musgrave, who's buying a three-bedroom townhome. "It used to be you didn't even want to go downtown."

Since city planners gave the project a rezoning green light this spring, developers said work is even a little ahead of pace.

The first of 235 apartments, which will each rent from about $800 to $2,000 a month, are rising at the 20-acre site off Riverfront Parkway between M.L. King Boulevard and the SpringHill Suites by Marriott.

Also, the initial 20 single-family homes, which are already sold, are under construction at the former Vulcan Materials site, said Nashville developer Aaron White.

"Phase one is sold out," White said. "We're really happy with it. We're ready to release phase two."

In addition, Chattanooga developer Eugene "Buck" Schimpf said he plans to start work next month on his part of the development going up on the Tennessee River.

Schimpf said the first of 19 planned townhomes are slated for construction along with an extension to the city's Riverwalk. Plans also call for 37 boat slips on the river, he said.

"Here we go," Schimpf said. "There's a lot of balls juggling in the air coming together at the same time."

Schimpf originally proposed housing at the site about six years ago, but the development stalled amid the recession.

"That slowed us down," he said, noting the economic downturn had led to just the construction of the SpringHill Suites.

But, Schimpf said, the housing market is coming back.

"People are getting more confident," he said. "We're seeing strong interest."

The project is a collaboration between Schimpf's Cameron Harbor LLC and Nashville-based Evergreen Real Estate, though both companies will remain separate.

Schimpf is developing townhomes, condominiums and a restaurant site. Evergreen is putting up the single-family homes and the apartments. Schimpf said the entire project will use the Cameron Harbor name he adopted earlier. He said the development also will share a common entrance.

The single-family cottage homes will range from $319,500 to $550,000, depending on size and location, according to the developers. Homeowners will have access to a swimming pool, fitness center and clubhouse.

The townhomes, which are slated to come before the condos, will have price points from $1 million to $1.25 million, the developers said. The units will have river-facing outdoor living areas and access to the planned boat slips.

The whole project calls for about 71 cottage homes, the mid-level apartment complex, the 19 townhomes and 30 condominiums.

Central city observers said it's the largest collection of waterfront housing since Heritage Landing was built in the 1980s.

Evergreen decided to undertake the construction of the apartments and single-family homes at about the same time. The apartments are slated to be finished next summer, White said. Plans are to start on the second phase of single-family home construction after the first round is built.

Schimpf said the glut of condominiums which were earlier raised downtown is about cleared out and the market is ripe for more units.

"The timing is right," he said.

Musgrave said that living on the river, near parks, the Riverwalk, and downtown restaurants were key attractions.

She said they hope to move in March or April. The couple debated about taking an apartment, but they like having their own house.

"Later we could resell," Musgrave said. "For now, it's perfect."

White said he's not shocked at the initial reaction of buyers.

"What we hoped for was great demand on the water," White said.

Evergreen has developed several new cottage communities in downtown Nashville as well as riverfront apartments in Knoxville.

"We will be creating a pedestrian-friendly community oriented towards the Riverwalk that will emphasize our connectivity to the river and downtown," said Hunter Connelly, also a principal with Evergreen.

Darlene Brown, managing broker of Real Estate Partners Chattanooga and the listing agent for the project, said riverfront development was important to city's rebirth.

"Cameron Harbor is a community whose time is now," Brown said.

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

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