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In this view looking west, a developer is looking at another new student housing development in the 600 block of M.L. King Boulevard.
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Site of proposed apartment complex near UTC.

UTC housing

Among housing projects recently completed, ongoing or planned both on and just off the UTC campus:

* West Campus housing: 600 beds, $80 million

* Douglas Heights: 691 beds, $41 million

* Campus Walk Apartments: 481 beds, cost unknown

* Vue at 5th: 64 apartments, $7 million

* Vine and Houston: 68 apartments, $5 million

* Fleetwood Building: 30 units, more than $3.5 million

* 324 Vine: 15 units, $2 million

Source: UTC, projects, archives

A New Hampshire developer has plans to raise another multi-level apartment building near UTC as student housing continues to mushroom to serve the campus.

StoneRidge Development of Durham, N.H., is looking to redevelop a 2.1-acre site at M.L. King Boulevard and University Street, turning some forlorn or vacant parcels into new housing for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students.

The so-called Campus Walk Apartments would go in a triangle-shaped tract and hold 481 beds on five stories, according to the company's website and state documents.

The complex would front on M.L. King and a multi-level parking deck would sit on the back of the site on East 10th Street, plans show.

The project would go next door to the just-completed Douglas Heights apartments, a $41 million, seven-story complex with 691 beds aimed mostly at college students, located just off M.L. King and Douglas Street.

Jeffrey Wakeman, a North Carolina consultant for Campus Walk Apartments, said he believes the developer would like to take in students about a year from now when classes begin for fall 2017. That could mean starting work this fall, he said.

"I think there's good demand there," Wakeman said.

Kim White, who heads the nonprofit Chattanooga downtown redevelopment group River City Co., said there's still room for more student housing in the market.

"For 20 years, UTC hasn't had enough student housing availability," she said.

Also, the array of new housing on or near the campus, particularly around M.L. King, will help spur redevelopment of that historic artery, White said.

"The goal is to keep the diversity and character as there is there now, but give everybody more options," she said.

UTC and the area around it are undergoing a building boomlet in new apartments that is adding about 2,000 beds.

An estimated $168 million in housing projects are either recently completed, ongoing or on track both on and just off campus. Solid UTC enrollment gains for much of the decade and enhanced community ties are seen as helping the area better share in downtown's resurgence, observers have said.

Matthew Crape, a principal for developer StoneRidge, declined comment on the project, and the cost wasn't available. But the apartments are listed on the company's website under "Pipeline" in terms of its portfolio of projects.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has accepted five tracts on the M.L. King site into its brownfield remediation program. The parcels on M.L. King, University Street and East 10th Street include some existing businesses.

Andrew Jackson, owner of A.J. Jackson Towing on the M.L. King block, said the developer has made an offer on his property and he's accepting it.

While his father started the business in 1940, Jackson said he's not opposed to leaving and relocating.

"The use of the property would be better served making some changes," he said. "I'm not opposed to it. I'm not opposed to progress."

Jackson noted that Douglas Heights overlooks his lot, which is full of old cars.

According to TDEC, three former gas stations also are on the site. In addition, use of foundry sand as fill is possible on the land or on surrounding properties, the state said.

Troy Keith, an environmental consultant for TDEC's remediation program, said the state's brownfields initiative enables reuse of sites that limits developers' liability.

"When all is said and done, the surface is clean and there's no contamination exposed," he said.

White said many UTC students may now live miles away from campus, such as in apartments on Mountain Creek Road, and want to move closer to the university.

Also, she said, UTC wants to grow its honors program and woo more international students, all candidates for living in student housing.

Still, White said, developers need to recognize that many students are used to paying less rent in older apartments.

"Developers will have to help [students] figure out how they're saving on transportation costs," she said.

Also, developers have to determine how to make sure they're offering affordable apartments with new construction, White said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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