“We're getting a lot push from doctors wanting to come out here.”
A proposed $100 million medical office campus in Ooltewah won rezoning approval from a Chattanooga planning panel on Monday.
A 23.4-acre tract near Hunter Road and Interstate-75 could hold 13 medical buildings and a boutique hotel for patients to stay before and after procedures, said Joseph Ingram of the Chattanooga engineering firm Ingram, Gore & Associates.
"We're getting a lot push from doctors wanting to come out here," he said. "There's a lot of push for this type of development."
The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission recommended rezoning the property from R-1 residential to C-2 commercial with conditions restricting it to a medical office campus with a pharmacy.
The City Council is slated to take up the proposed rezoning on Aug. 13 for final approval.
City Councilwoman Carol Berz termed the project "fabulous."
"This is going to be plastic surgery, upscale day surgery with an overnight place," she said, adding that the site also could hold park space.
She said a roadblock had been finding the right zoning, noting she didn't want the land to be zoned "unfettered C-2."
John Bridger, the Regional Planning Agency's executive director, recommended C-2 with the conditions to control the site's use to the medical office campus, and Planning Commission member and City Councilman Darrin Ledford offered a motion to approve the new zoning.
"We can work out the details," Ledford said.
Ingram noted at the planning commission meeting that there was no one opposing the proposed campus.
"You see from the lack of opposition that this is the first plan [for the site] where neighbors haven't lost their minds," he said about prior concerns over new development and traffic in the area.
The office buildings would be one or two stories in height, Ingram said. Individual practices would buy the lots, he said, citing specialties such as orthopedics, plastic surgery, orthodontics and others.
Likely one of the buildings would hold an inside pharmacy, Ingram said.
"We've got a lot of interest," he said, predicting the proposed development could go over $100 million when fully built out.
The Ooltewah-Collegedale area is one of the fast-growing areas of Hamilton County. Among Tennessee's 100 largest cities, Collegedale was second only to the Nashville suburb of Mount Juliet in its growth rate from 2010 to 2016.
Ingram said work on the planned site likely wouldn't start for about two years as a lot of permitting would be involved to build the campus.
A 20-unit boutique hotel could go on the parcel furthest away from nearby residential, Ingram said.
While the medical office campus could be visible from nearby I-75, he said, the aim is to keep it "subtle, calm . ... Campus is a good designation. I'd almost want to gate it so it's not a lover's lane."
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.