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Rendering by The Architecture Collaborative / A 7-story apartment complex is proposed for a Chestnut Street site in the South Broad District.

A developer is proposing to build a seven-story apartment complex near the former U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site in one of the biggest new projects in Chattanooga's South Broad District.

The plan for the land at 2378 Chestnut St. calls for 245 apartments coupled with bottom floor commercial space on property adjacent to the 141-acre foundry tract and the city's Riverwalk.

The proposal by RFM Development Co. to rezone the 2.1-acre site from M-1 Manufacturing to Urban General Commercial would put 180 one-bedroom and 65 two-bedroom units on the tract.

Also, the site would hold 18,000 square feet of commercial space along Chestnut Street. In addition, the complex would have two stories of structured parking with 250 spaces, according to site plans submitted with the rezoning proposal to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency.

The proposal is expected to be heard by the regional planning commission in February. A representative for the developer didn't return phone calls or an email for comment. A Knoxville architect working for the developer also declined comment.

The property, currently an industrial site holding steel plates and other items, is owned by John Pregulman, according to a rezoning application filed by the development group.

David DeVaney, president of NAI Charter Real Estate and a Pregulman representative, said it looks as if the development group is banking on the proposed site's proximity to the Riverwalk and the former foundry land.

He said that new apartment projects built downtown have shown a lot of interest from developers, and now they're pushing outside of the central city into the South Broad District, M.L. King Boulevard, McCallie Avenue and other nearby areas.

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Staff photo by Mike Pare / Rezoning of an existing industrial site on Chestnut Street would pave the way for a 245-unit apartment complex.

"Now it's starting to trickle off to other places," DeVaney said in a telephone interview.

Near the proposed Chestnut Street project, another developer late last year offered a plan for townhouses also just across the road from the huge foundry site. Mark McCraw, who owns about a half-acre at 503 W. 26th St., said in a telephone interview then that plans are to build about 13 to 15, three-level townhomes in a $4 million to $5 million project.

The South Broad District is bounded by the foundry land, Howard School, Interstate-24 and Chattanooga Creek.

A master blueprint developed in 2018 by a planning group and endorsed by the city has identified the foundry property as a potential location for a new multi-use facility for the Chattanooga Lookouts minor league baseball team as part of an array of housing and commercial development.

Jason Freier, managing owner of the Lookouts, said late last year at a news conference that the team remains interested in pursuing a public-private partnership for funding a new multi-purpose venue.

"A public-private partnership is the way these get done," he said.

Freier said a new Lookouts facility somewhere is "high on the priority list."

The club currently plays at AT&T Field near downtown's riverfront. But Major League Baseball last year went through a contraction of minor league teams. While the Lookouts survived, officials identified the stadium as having deficiencies.

The Knoxville area's minor league team plans to move from Kodak outside Sevierville to a site inside Knoxville's Old City neighborhood downtown where a new ballpark is planned, according to The Associated Press. Team owner, businessman and University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd has unveiled plans to bring the club back with an even bigger stadium complex after the Knoxville City Council voted several weeks ago to help fund the $74.5 million project. Other participants in the agreement include Knox County and the Knoxville Knox County Sports Authority.

Boyd has promised to bring at least $142 million in private money to build 630,000 square feet of restaurants, retail shops and residences around the stadium. Officials would like the team opening the season in Knoxville in spring 2024.

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

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