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Staff photo by Doug Strickland / An apartment building under construction at 1701 Broad St., adjacent to the Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing facility, is slated to open this fall after a delay.

A downtown Chattanooga apartment building going up next to the Pilgrim's Pride plant is about nine months behind schedule, while the developer of another complex is readying to start work.

The new development comes as the central city tries to absorb the array of apartments which have recently come online or are underway.

A 158-unit Southside apartment building at Broad and West 17th streets is slated for completion even though an issue with the contractor has delayed opening until the fall, said Knoxville developer John Murphy.

He predicted the five-story building adjacent to the chicken processing plant would still come in at about $28 million.

"The original contractor is still on the job," Murphy said. "We're trying to work with them to finish."

Murphy said he's excited about the complex, called 17 Broad, even as a lot of apartment units have opened. While Murphy said he doesn't expect the chicken plant always to be located next door, he believes the odor is less than it was three years ago when the apartment project was conceived.

some text Staff photo by Doug Strickland / An apartment building, left, is under construction at 1701 Broad St. The Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing facility sits across West 17th Street.

"It was a foul smell," he said. "It has improved tremendously. I think they're trying to be a good neighbor."

Meanwhile, a South Carolina developer planning one of the downtown riverfront's biggest-ever mixed-use projects has obtained city permits as the company preps for construction.

River Rock will offer 16,000 square feet of commercial space in addition to 167 apartment units as well as townhomes with attached garages. Estimated at about $48 million, the project will go up on two former Unum Group parking lots off Cherry and Fourth streets.

A 281-space parking garage will be constructed in the center of one of the lots for the new development, which will have three-, four- and five-story buildings, officials said.

"River Rock will deliver high-quality, live-work-play options for Chattanooga's growing population of residents," said Alan McMahon, development manager at the South Carolina-based The Beach Co.

Amy Donahue, director of marketing and communications for the downtown nonprofit redevelopment group RiverCity Co., said workers should start moving dirt on the site in November.

"It's on track for everything to start going," she said.

A report earlier this year showed a mixed bag over how well some of the array of downtown apartment projects are doing. One complex, Market City Center on the 700 block of Market Street, is turning 53 of its 125 units into overnight or longer-term travel apartments.

Murphy said he likes his Southside project, noting it has covered parking, and he lauded the energy in the city's central business district.

Last year, there was discussion about a Pilgrim's Pride plant moving to nearby Walker County, Georgia, but that idea met with opposition from neighbors and it hasn't moved forward.

This spring, City Council Chairman Ken Smith introduced an ordinance amending the city code for health nuisances by adding a section that addresses "noxious odors," something that could directly affect the city's chicken plants.

But while the amendment was spurred by a "tremendous" number of calls complaining about the stench, Smith said, the intent is not to target Pilgrim's Pride. It was meant to address all businesses that have problems containing odors, he said.

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

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