A Kentucky corporation wants to build a $40 million apartment complex at the old Frank H. Trotter School site in Alton Park. It would be the first development on the 13-acre site since the school closed in the 1980s.
Councilman Chris Anderson, who represents the area, is thrilled about the potential investment for the community.
"Commercial development is never going to come [to Alton Park] until there is more residential density," he said. "So adding 260 homes will make it a lot easier to get a bank or a grocery store."
LDG Development LLC seeks to build the 264-unit apartment complex on the 4900 block of Central Avenue. The site, called Reserve at Mountain Pass, would include two- and three-bedroom apartments with floor plans ranging from 1,072 square feet to 1,185 square feet.
Representatives of LDG Development met with Alton Park residents this month at the Southside Community Health Center to share their plans and get feedback. The developers plan to meet with residents again in February, but no date has been set.
The company promises it's going to provide quality housing in a gated community, complete with 24/7 fitness center, a clubhouse, full-time maintenance on site and a swimming pool.
Several area home owners expressed concerns about the development.
"You've got a lot of retirees out here, and if the property tax goes up they ain't going to be able to make it because they're on a fixed income. So they are going to be forced out," said Gil Shropshire, president of the Alton Park Piney Woods Neighborhood Association.
The median household income in Alton Park is $24,328, according to citydata.com. The median rent is $344.
The development company said it is targeting people who earn from $26,000 to $36,000 a year. The rents are projected to range from $730 to $830 a month.
Others are worried about the environmental impact of building on a site so close to the former Velsicol Chemical Co., a brownfield site. One resident said chemicals from Velsicol, which was shut down in 2007, could have contaminated the soil at the former Trotter school site.
LDG Development Director Scott Brian said he would look at past soil studies and consider doing further studies.
In response to a resident's concern about the development causing her property value to decrease, he said the developer's sites usually increase the value of the surrounding neighborhood.
The company has apartments in Louisville, Ky.; Wichita, Kan.; New Orleans; Jackson, Miss.; Houston, and Midlothian, Va., according to its website, www.ldg development.com/properties.php.
Brian said if the company invests in Alton Park, it will make sure to offer a quality development and that a market exists before it is built.
"We don't know if this is going to go," he said. "We're just asking this community to let us move forward and make this investment."
Longtime Alton Park resident Rosemary Porter was among several people who sat quietly during the meeting but later said they hope the development comes.
"See, it's something coming this way," she said. "The [Tennessee] Riverwalk, housing development is coming to Alton Park. They're building up all of Chattanooga. Why not build in Alton Park?"
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at email@example.com or 423-757-6431.