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Two adjacent century-old buildings which run between Broad and Market streets will hold two dozen condominiums and an automated stacked parking system, according to the development group. / Staff photo by Mike Pare

A developer plans to put two dozen condominiums into a pair of downtown Chattanooga buildings and, in a first for the city, install automated stacked parking for the owners' cars.

"You drive the car in on a tray. It takes it to a spot [inside the building]," said Don Sells of River Street Architecture, which is designing the condo project at 619 and 621 Market St.

Sells said plans are to construct 24 condos, which will range from $600,000 to $1 million each, in the project that could reach about $10 million.

The parking system will occupy the basement and part of the first story of one of the buildings and hold one vehicle for each condo, he said.

The two four-story structures, which date to 1885, stretch from Broad Street to Market. The driveway to the inside of the building where the three-level parking system is located is on Broad.

"One car per unit is a real estate necessity to make the development work," Sells told the Chattanooga Form-Based Code Committee, which approved a variance for the project on Thursday.

Also, plans are to place retail space on the ground floor of the two buildings, one of which is supported by tall metal support beams to steady the structure and ready it for work later this year.

In addition, a part of one of the buildings will be cut out in the center to support a courtyard and permit light into the condo project, Sells said.

The project, being developed by a Nashville group, emerged after the new owner bought both adjoining buildings and created enough room to hold about six condos per floor, he said.

"I've been working for four-and-a-half years to utilize these two old buildings," said Sells, adding that the pair were originally warehouses.

Committee member Jim Williamson said the buildings have needed reuse for decades.

"This makes a lot of sense to me," he said.

Amy Donahue, director of marketing and communications for the nonprofit redevelopment group River City Co., said the stacked parking system is a first for Chattanooga, though it's not uncommon nationally.

"If you go to big cities, you see stacked parking," she said, citing the scarcity of the availability of land for vehicles. "It's new to our community."

The form-based code panel discussed how approving a variance for a curb cut for the parking system would create a potential precedent. They noted that cars will cross the Broad Street sidewalk to enter the building's parking system, and that other developers may want to use stacked parking in other projects downtown.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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