One of Chattanooga's biggest commercial and apartment developments may soon shift its original design to add single-family homes for the first time and limit some of the retail portion of the $100 million plan.
Hillocks Farm, located on a 190-acre wooded tract on Highway 153 in Hixson, could hold about 70 new single-family homes, said Duane Horton, a Chattanooga builder overseeing the project.
Plans are to seek a planned unit development designation and a rezoning change for part of the Hillocks Farm property off Highway 153 from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission in May. The requests could go to the City Council the next month, said Councilman Chip Henderson.
"It will help strengthen the community," Horton told about a dozen people Wednesday during a a community meeting in Hixson.
Horton said new plans are to cut the size of the retail part of the original design and mix planned offices into that component, freeing up acreage in the rear of the development for the homes.
While the site is zoned for up to 500,000 square feet of retail, new plans call for 350,000 square feet, he said.
"We're working the corporate office space into the [retail]," Horton said. "That allows us to meet the demand for single-family housing."
He said Hillocks Farm is working with a development firm, which he declined to immediately name.
The homes would range from about 1,800 square feet to 2,600 square feet, Horton said. Price points haven't been finalized yet, he said.
Work on home construction could start early next year, Horton said.
But plans are to seek a planned unit development designation and a rezoning change for part of the property from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission in May. The requests could go to the City Council the next month.
Horton said there would be no changes to the sizable number of conditions which were added to the project when it received approval a few years ago for the retail and office space along with apartments.
The apartment piece of the project, the first to go up and featuring about 280 units, is "leasing up nicely," Horton said.
The planned single family units were welcomed by most of those at the Wednesday meeting.
"I think those will be good for the area," said Brandon Rodriguez of Soddy-Daisy.
Jerry Jones, who has a house in a subdivision that backs up to Hillocks Farm, said he thinks the change is "beneficial in terms of residential neighborhoods" nearby. He noted there are a half dozen neighborhoods around Hillocks Farm, which has an entrance located between Grubb and Boy Scout roads off Highway 153.
City Councilman Chip Henderson said the homes are an improvement to the project. He said there likely would have been less opposition to the project if single-family residences had been a component early on.
When the project was offered early this decade, then called Chattanooga Village, it drew scathing opposition from some nearby residents. They worried about flooding from rain runoff, noise, traffic and other issues.
The site sits on a slope, going from a hilltop on one of the highest points in Hixson to lower-laying terrain near Boy Scout Road and North Chickamauga Creek.
The final blueprint approved by Chattanooga planners offered some three dozen conditions that need to be followed for development to proceed.
"It has been a long time coming," Henderson said about the project.
Horton said the final result is "better than when it started."
"Literally, it's live, work and play," he said.
In terms of the retail piece of the project, Horton said he's hopeful that announcements are coming soon. Horton said a traffic light at Highway 153 and the Hillocks Farm entrance is expected to be put in when the next part of the development starts.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.