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Staff photo by Mike Pare / An 11.7-acre tract off Hixson Pike is slated to hold new apartments if a proposal receives approval from a planning panel. The tract currently has a few single-family residences on it.

Showing the staying power of Chattanooga's rental market, a new $20 million apartment development in Hixson is planned near another complex that recently had its grand opening.

A company wants to put up 180 apartments in the 6000 block of Hixson Pike and is seeking a zoning change for an 11.7-acre tract from R-1 Residential to R-3 from a city planning panel on Monday.

Mike Price, owner of MAP Engineers, said that Chattanooga-based Pratt Living would build and own the proposed new complex. He said the development would have one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

Five apartment buildings and two smaller structures for townhouse- type units would go up on the parcel that currently has a few single- family homes on it, Price said.

He said the rear part of the property would be reserved for green space nearer Big Ridge. That's similar to what was done at the Lullwater at Big Ridge Apartments nearby, Price said. He said that 250-unit complex had its grand opening about six weeks ago.

Price said rental rates will be market rate, though it's difficult to know costs at this time.

"Rental rates have been increasing," he said. "It's hard to pinpoint an exact number. It will be in line with other apartments."

The proposed complex is one of two that the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission is slated to hear on Monday.

Another Chattanooga developer is seeking rezoning for 210 apartments and 26 townhouses off East Brainerd Road.

Clint Wolford and John Woods are seeking new zoning on nine acres that formerly held East Brainerd Elementary School for their project.

"There are a lot of people coming into the market to develop apartments from outside Chattanooga," said Wolford. "I think the market is hot enough for the apartment complex."

Price said there has been high demand for apartments in Chattanooga, and he cited an increase in the price of starter homes as one reason, he said.

"There has been an influx of people we've had moving into the area," Price added.

Also, there are some people who don't want the deal with home maintenance and would rather let another party take care of that issue, he said.

If the project receives approval, Price said plans call for breaking ground on the new apartments this year with renters starting to move in around 12 months later.

The Planning Commission staff has recommended the panel approve the rezoning with conditions. The staff report called for a 10-foot-wide landscape buffer along the perimeter of the site adjacent to R-1 zones. It also called for the green space area.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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