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Staff photo by Mike Pare / Chattanooga developer Thomas Connolly talks about the construction site of a 36-unit apartment building under construction at East Main Street and Central Avenue.

A Chattanooga developer has started work on a trio of apartment, townhouse and commercial projects within a mile of each other in downtown's Southside.

"I've seen the trend of people moving back into the urban core," said Thomas Connolly, who owns Connolly Development Ventures, as more residents seek a Southside address in the city.

That trendy section of downtown along with nearby neighborhoods are seeing an array of new development, much of it housing as builders try to meet demand in Chattanooga's hot market.

Connolly said he has about $10 million in work underway, with the most high-profile a 36-unit apartment building going up on what was a vacant lot at East Main Street and Central Avenue.

That four-level structure will hold 32 one-bedroom studio units with the other four having two bedrooms, he said.

Rents likely will fall under $1,000 per month, he said, as the complex aims at appealing to young urban professionals. Connolly said he's hopeful the first move-ins will take place near the end of April 2022.

He said the complex is named East Line Apartments, drawing from a proposed 7-mile pedestrian link envisioned to run from downtown to East Lake called the East Line.

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Staff photo by Mike Pare / A new apartment building under construction at East Main Street and Central Avenue is one of three projects developer Thomas Connolly has underway in Chattanooga's Southside.

Matt Lyle, a local architect and a leader in the trail effort, said it would follow old rail lines through the city's rich manufacturing past and offer a new walking and bike pathway.

"It's like it's this hidden gem," he said earlier.

Also, Connolly said he's begun work on a nine-unit townhouse project at Rossville Avenue and Wilhoit Street. The three-level townhomes will feature one-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath units, he said.

The developer expects each townhouse, located a block off East Main, to sell at under $300,000. He said that Reed Rawlings of Target Capital and Chattanoogan Zach Wamp and son Weston are helping finance Southside Nine Townhomes.

Those units, which will hold third-floor flex space with a large outdoor terrace, are expected to be ready next March.

The third project Connolly has underway is a few blocks away at Main and Madison Avenue. Plans are to keep an older existing building on the site, add a patio and repurpose it into a restaurant.

"The existing single-level building on the parcel was in jeopardy, but we were able to find a way to keep it while still adding density to the site," he said.

A new three-story structure will hold seven studio apartments and 900 square feet of storefront offices, Connolly said. The project has a July 2022 completion date, he said.

Connolly said his company has developed nine projects over the past five years, including other work in the Southside.

Also, the company has hired Kelsey Gaines as project manager.

"Kelsey's only been with the company for three months but she has made a major impact from day one," Connolly said.

Just last month, another Chattanooga developer said he's looking at building nearly 100 new residential units off East Main Street near Montague Park in three proposed complexes in the area.

"Everything was planned to work together, sidewalks, green space, taking advantage of Montague Park and the Sculpture Fields," said developer Kevin Boehm.

Meanwhile, Food City has started tearing down a former distribution warehouse at Main and Broad streets in the Southside where the company plans a new supermarket along with six two-level townhomes.

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

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