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Staff file photo by Troy Stolt / Jimmy White talks about redevelopment plans at The Bend, or the former Alstom manufacturing site off Riverfront Parkway.

A nearly 1,000-space parking garage planned at the former Alstom site has won approval from a Chattanooga panel and will help spur a proposed nearby 10-story office building, a developer said Thursday.

The six-story, 972-space garage would be one of the biggest parking decks in the downtown area, and work is slated to start next year, said Jimmy White, who is developing the longtime former manufacturing site off Riverfront Parkway.

White said after a city planning meeting that plans are for the office building to start at about the same time as construction of the garage on the south end of the parcel off West 19th Street.

"We do have letters of intent on the building," he said about leases on that space.

Also, White said, medical offices are planned nearby at the 121-acre tract along the Tennessee River, which has been rebranded as The Bend.

He said he didn't have a price tag yet for the garage, which will undergo design.

Jessica Stack of the Tinker Ma architectural firm said the planned garage will serve the first wave of development on the sprawling parcel.

"The goal is to not cover [the site] with parking structures," she said.

The planned site of the garage and office buildings aren't too far from where battery materials maker Novonix will retrofit a 400,000-square-foot former nuclear turbine manufacturing plant at The Bend.

Earlier this summer, the company unveiled plans to invest $160 million and create 300 jobs in the factory where Novonix aims to produce up to 10,000 tons per year of synthetic graphite. The product is used in making ultra-long-life, high-performance anode material for lithium-ion batteries, specifically for electric vehicles and similar storage applications.

On Thursday, White sought a variance from zoning rules crafted for The Bend amid "a quick time frame" under the previous mayoral administration.

"Now we've created jobs and found challenges with the existing code," he said.

The panel unanimously approved a motion by member David Hudson, which included the request to modify and change the code at The Bend.

"That way we're not setting precedent," he said.

White and business partner Hiren Desai, a Chattanooga hotel developer, purchased the former Alstom site for $30 million in 2018.

Manufacturing on the parcel goes back more than 100 years. For decades, it held Combustion Engineering's operations and later Alstom and GE Power, which shut down facilities and then sold the property to White's group.

Since the acquisition, White said more than 700 manufacturing and office jobs have been created on the tract.

A lengthy planning effort earlier revealed possibilities for the parcel including a 10,000-square-foot food hall and music venue, townhomes, workforce housing, a canal, brewpub, child care center, offices and more, including the reuse of the large manufacturing building.

White has said the proposed redevelopment of the Alstom property could bring $2 billion to $3 billion in investments, add more than $11 million in tax revenue annually for Chattanooga and Hamilton County and spur more than 5,000 jobs.

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

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