Photo by Mike Pare / Southeast Venture is proposing to build 180 apartments on this vacant lot at 3331 St. Elmo Avenue in Chattanooga. The planning commission endorsed the project this week and the City Council will consider the plans next month.

More apartments appear pegged for Chattanooga's South Broad area as a developer has plans to build up to 180 units in a five-level complex next to a proposed new section of Riverwalk.

The planned apartments on St. Elmo Avenue near a Publix supermarket that's under construction is the latest in a series of new or proposed projects in the area that's showing mushrooming growth.

The apartment complex, proposed by Nashville developer Southeast Venture, would go up on a vacant commercial site that now holds empty buildings.

Located on a 4.4-acre tract near Chattanooga Creek, the project won approval this week from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, but it still needs the OK from the Chattanooga City Council.

Lee White of Southeast Venture said the company's proposal is in the due diligence stage and he declined further comment.

But landowner Kevin Boehm said most people consider the South Broad area as "downtown living," noting that it's connected to the Riverwalk.

Construction of the final piece of the walking and biking trail on the south side of the Tennessee River is in the works. In addition, the 3331 St. Elmo Ave. site for the proposed apartments is in proximity to other trails going up Lookout Mountain and the planned Alton Park Connector.

"It's a real amenity," Boehm said, especially in view of the coronavirus pandemic. "They can get outside and get fresh air and not worry about it for a few minutes."

Mike Harrell, chairman of the nonprofit South Broad Redevelopment Group, said developers and others were encouraged to build after seeing the Riverwalk's construction into the district. The Chattanooga businessman said the group had raised money and hired a company to work on a plan for the Riverwalk to where it will terminate near Lookout Mountain.

"After they did that, the (city's) riverwalk committee said 'Come sit at the table,'" Harrell said. "That was a catalyst."

He said developer Ethan Collier started building new residences near the Southern Saddlery Building off Broad Street and other developers are jumping in.

Also this week, Chattanooga developer Hiren Desai received approval from the Planning Commission to add the largest number of new units in the Southside Gardens neighborhood in the area in years.

Some 35 townhouses are proposed for the 2500 block of Cowart Street in the first phase of the proposed new development.

Off West 33rd Street near Chattanooga Christian School, a Knoxville developer has plans for hundreds of new housing units. Neyland Apartment Associates has torn down old warehouses and is currently prepping the site for construction.

The Publix store is seen by city officials as helping kick-start more development in the area. The 32,000-square-foot store along with small shop space is to open later this year.

In 2018, planners in the South Broad District envisioned a potential array of new housing and retail for the area just south of Interstate-24.

A blueprint of the district's future after an intensive community planning effort included a multi-use minor league baseball park anchoring the area in the 141-acre U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site among other development.

Contact Mike Pare at Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.