A new $25 million senior living complex was approved by a Chattanooga planning panel Monday.
Independent Healthcare Properties won rezoning for a 23-acre vacant tract in the 9700 block of East Brainerd Road for the project.
Work could start late this summer if the plan receives final approval from the Hamilton County Commission, said Greg Vital, the company's chief executive.
He told the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission the proposed facility would be "very similar" to Independent Healthcare's Hixson campus.
Vital said assisted living and Alzheimer's care facilities would go up first to be followed by other services.
"Eventually it will have the full realm of senior options," Vital said, adding the site is expected to open in about 18 months.
Mike Price of MAP Engineers, which represented Independent Healthcare, said about 70 people showed up at a recent community meeting related to the company's proposal.
He said the majority want to see C-2 convenience commercial zoning of the property rather than residential which could lead to apartments.
"They fear apartments," Price said.
City Councilman Darrin Ledford said he understands how an R-3 zoning of the site could "open up the gateway for apartments."
"I get it," he said.
Vital said the new facility ultimately could employ 150 people.
Independent Healthcare owns and manages about 30 Morning Pointe living and Alzheimer's Memory Care centers in the Southeast and Midwest.
The company had annual billings in 2014 of about $50 million with a staff of some 1,200 employees.
"We've tried to take the best in our industry and put our hand print on it," Vital said.
IHP, headquartered in Ooltewah, started in 1996 with what Vital believed was an ambitious goal of building and leasing a half dozen assisted living and senior centers. About two decades later, the company has far exceeded its original target.
"Health care is a regional service," Vital said. "We're concentrating on the region in which we can best reflect our culture of care and service. There is plenty of opportunity for folks who want to stay in this footprint that we can be of service to."
The company has focused its growth along the Interstate-75 and Interstate-65 corridors.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.