Staff Photo by Mike Pare / The 2500 Block of Cowart Street in the Southside Gardens neighborhood is slated to see new townhouses. An existing building at one corner, Hamlett Chapel, is expected to stay, officials said.

A Chattanooga group is planning to put up a townhouse project in a South Broad neighborhood and add the largest number of new residential units in the area in decades.

Some 35 townhouses are initially slated for the Southside Gardens neighborhood, which is roughly bounded by Interstate-24, Broad and Market streets and Chattanooga Creek.

The multimillion-dollar project is expected to launch more residential and some commercial development in the neighborhood, according to officials.

South Broad LLC is seeking to rezone a nearly 1-acre tract in the 2500 block of Cowart Street to hold the townhouses. Chattanooga real estate developers Hiren Desai and Jimmy White a few years ago bought some 49 parcels in the area.

The townhouse project, bounded by Cowart, 25th, 26th and Williams streets, calls for 35 of the three-level units. The townhouses would hold from two to three bedrooms each, plans show.

South Broad LLC is seeking a zoning change from R-3 residential to Urban General Commercial (UGC) from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission next month.

Mike Price of MAP Engineers said a land-use plan calls for UGC, and there's that zoning in the area.

"It's one that's appropriate and works for the development," he said.

A church on one corner of the property, Hamlett Chapel, will stay, Price said. Parking for the townhouses will go on the block's interior, he said. Price points for the units weren't immediately known.

Josh Randall of Grace Construction Consultants said work could start this fall with units ready in spring 2022.

He said other adjacent parcels are expected to hold primarily residential, though nothing is confirmed yet.

Earlier, Desai said that a future four-story building nearby at Broad and 26th streets could hold possible housing, office, retail space or even a hotel. Desai is chief executive of Chattanooga-based hotel developer and operator 3H Group.

White said that more residential makes sense as downtown continues to expand outward on the Broad Street corridor.

"Look at what direction the city can grow," he said.

Ann Weeks of the nonprofit South Broad Redevelopment Group said that Desai's team reached out on the townhouse project. The redevelopment group offered some exterior and cosmetic changes, which South Broad LLC is to implement, she said.

"You can't get much better than that," Weeks said.

Last year, the city spent about $1 million to create an enhanced five-block connector on 26th Street for pedestrians and cyclists to better link Howard School on Market Street and Broad Street.

The new work provided a full makeover to 26th Street, which cuts through the heart of Southside Gardens, offering a 12-foot sidewalk on one side of the road along with landscaping, lighting and other perks.

The makeover was envisioned in the South Broad District Plan which the city approved three years ago and goes from interstate to the creek but also includes the adjacent former U.S. Pipe and Wheland Foundry properties.

The South Broad District Plan by the Chattanooga Design Studio foresees an array of new housing along with commercial and retail space, upgraded parks, streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure, including a potential new minor league ballpark and entertainment facility on the foundry tract to serve as a catalyst for development.

Contact Mike Pare at Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.