A planning panel on Monday endorsed a proposal to vastly remake the former site of East Brainerd Elementary School in Chattanooga to hold new housing along with retail and restaurant locations.
But a couple of other proposals before the panel to add housing and commercial space in the East Brainerd area were either denied or withdrawn.
The former East Brainerd Elementary tract at East Brainerd and North Joiner roads is to hold about 210 apartments and 26 townhouses, according to Chattanooga developer Clint Wolford. He said the property will have commercial space along East Brainerd Road.
The multimillion-dollar project won approval for a change from zoning for basic retail to a mix of commercial and other uses from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission and is expected to go before the City Council for its approval next month.
City Councilman Darrin Ledford, who also serves on the planning panel, said the proposal is "a bold design."
"We do have a housing shortage in the city," he said. "It not only brings mixed use, it brings in low-density retail. We need UGC [Urban General Commercial zoning] in the district."
However, a concern was raised about traffic on heavily traveled East Brainerd Road.
Mark Grayson, who owns property across the road from the proposed project, said that there has got to be something done with the traffic in the area.
He said Joiner Road could be widened and a traffic light put at its intersection with East Brainerd Road.
"I'm good with everything but the traffic issue," Grayson said.
Wolford, who is developing the property along with Chattanooga Lookouts co-owner John Woods, said a traffic study in 2016 was done and a light at the intersection was recommended. He said he'd be willing to update the study.
Ledford said widening Joiner Road is something the Chattanooga Department of Transportation would look at along with a traffic light.
"CDOT will be brought on board in the permitting process," he said.
Wolford has said construction could start before year's end, though that timetable could slide to early 2022. People could start moving into the units about a year later, he said.
Wolford said the cost of the project is a moving target because of changing prices for lumber and other construction materials.
The developer also couldn't say what apartment rental rates will look like due to rising costs. He said rents will be market-driven.
Meanwhile, a separate proposal for a new residential development adjacent to Holly Hills in East Brainerd was withdrawn at the meeting by the developer. The proposal called for 43 single-family units and 36 townhouses.
Paces Ferry Builders had sought a special permit for work in the 2300 block of Jenkins Road, 7900 Holly Hills and the 8000 block of Angie Drive.
No reason was given by the applicant for the withdrawal, though the planning commission staff had recommend denying the special permit. It cited concerns with the configuration of the residences on the tract and that some lots were in the flood way.
Earlier, Holly Hills residents had mixed reactions to the proposed development during a community meeting. They had complained about increased traffic, especially on Jenkins and Holly Hill roads and Shallowmeade Lane.
Also, there were worries about building along Mackey Branch, which a resident said often floods during spring rains.
Another proposed project in East Brainerd, a convenience store and gas station on a 1.5-acre parcel at 2511 Jenkins Road, was denied by the planning commission.
KA Management had sought a rezoning of the land from R-1 Residential to C-2 Convenience Commercial Zone.
But planning commission staff had recommended denial of the proposal, saying it was not compatible with the area's land-use plan and would set a precedent for future requests. It also noted the area is undergoing a new land-use plan.
The applicant for the zoning change wasn't present and the panel accepted the staff recommendation.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.