A $45 million, 283-unit apartment building is slated to go up on the rear of the Chattanooga Choo Choo complex as the Southside continues to sizzle with new rental housing.
Work on the Bluebird Row apartments is to start in June on the site of the Track 29 music venue, which will move closer to Market Street, said Michael Ramsey of Birmingham, Ala.-based LIV Development.
"We do feel great about the demand. What's not to like with everything going on over there?" asked Ramsey about the Southside and the area around the Choo Choo.
The 300,000-square-foot, four-story building will be one of the largest new housing complexes to go up in downtown Chattanooga, which already is adding more than 2,000 apartment units.
In the Southside alone, at least five new apartment buildings are currently under construction, and more are planned.
Ramsey said LIV Development is buying about seven acres at the Choo Choo for its apartment project, which is expected to be ready to take tenants in the summer of 2018.
He said rents are pegged at $900 to $1,000 a month for a studio; $1,200 to $1,300 monthly for one bedroom; $1,500 to $1,600 for two bedrooms; and $1,800 to $1,900 for three bedrooms.
"If you get two or three friends to live with you, the pricing point is $700 per person," Ramsey said. He said that price is "really affordable" for the millennials and empty-nesters the development group is targeting.
Adam Kinsey, president of Choo Choo Partners LP, said 20 developers were interested in developing the Track 29 site for apartments and LIV Development was the best fit.
He said that LIV's 283 units will join with 110 apartments the Choo Choo is currently redeveloping from existing hotel rooms. Already, the Choo Choo has created 98 studio apartments from hotel rooms.
When complete, the Choo Choo complex will hold nearly 500 apartments, Kinsey said.
"There will be in excess of 700 people living on the property," he said, noting that will generate more restaurants and nightlife. "I think it's a home run."
Kim White, who heads the downtown nonprofit redevelopment group River City Co., said the Choo Choo is putting some of its land into active production for the Southside.
"The Choo Choo wanted to open its doors to the neighborhood," she said. "It's bringing the neighborhood in. Now that the Southside has come into its own, the Choo Choo is a more integral part of the equation."
Ramsey said the name of the apartment complex, Bluebird Row, is a play off of RCA Bluebird, which produced the "Chattanooga Choo Choo" record years ago.
Bluebird Row will be big enough to have more amenities than other complexes in the Southside, Ramsey said.
He said Bluebird Row will have a business center not just open to residents but the community with a monthly membership buying an allocated space and use of Wi-Fi and printers.
Also, Ramsey said, the complex will offer a full-size pool and fitness center, a pet spa, a 20-person movie theater, and a full-time leasing staff and maintenance crew.
White said River City officials have met with a lot people whose families have moved out, they've down-sized, and they have the flexibility of renting rather than investing in a house.
"What's great about the Southside is it's a great mix," she said. "There seems to be something for everybody."
Kinsey said that Track 29 is still holding shows currently, but it will relocate to the Choo Choo's Centennial Theatre.
"We're working on a time frame for that," he said.
Ramsey said LIV Development previously raised the CityGreen at North Shore apartments off Dayton Boulevard.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.