Student Housing Grows In Chattanooga Near UTC

Student Housing Grows In Chattanooga Near UTC

A Chattanooga development group that opened a suite-style apartment complex at Vine and Lindsay streets in January is planning to build an even bigger student housing project just a block away.

Green Real Estate Group LLC, in partnership with DEW UTC LLC, has acquired the site of the former University Pizza and Deli at Vine and Houston streets and plans to start building a five-story, 68-bed student housing project at the corner lot this summer.

The $5 million project known as Vine 422 will add 68 more units of student housing next to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus where both university and private developers are already planning to add nearly 1,400 apartments and dorm units targeted at students.

The new complex also should give another boost to the redeveloping Vine Street corridor, where Unum Group is already negotiating for the possible redevelopment of one of its parking lots into an apartment and retail complex.

“This is a redeveloping area, close to the UTC campus where there is a tremendous demand for student housing right now,” said Aubrey Read, director of marketing and operations for the Green Real Estate Group.

The group’s first apartment complex at 324 Vine included 31 units in eight suites. It quickly leased up even though it opened in January in the middle of the school year.

Chuck Cantrell, associate vice chancellor at UTC, said that over the past five years the university has had to house some UTC students in hotels and turn away others from on-campus housing because demand for university housing has outstripped supply, at least when the school year begins each fall.

A housing study last year by the River City Co. projects there is demand for up to 3,000 more student housing units downtown and 2,300 market-rate rental units in the central city.

“Despite the growing private development around campus, which we are really excited about, we still think we need to build another housing facility on our campus, especially to serve freshmen needs,” Cantrell said Wednesday. “Our enrollment was down slightly this year, although not as much as at many campuses, and we think one of the reasons was because we had to turn some students away from housing.”

Cantrell said UTC is becoming more of a 24-hour-a-day active campus “and part of that is linked to the vitality of Chattanooga’s downtown where more students want to live.”

Across the street from where the new Vine 422 will soon take shape, UTC is planning to build a 600-bed student residence hall, primarily targeted at freshman students. The Tennessee State Building Commission has authorized the $80 million project, which will include a 700-car garage.

An even bigger student housing complex, built by private developers, is being raised along Douglas Street between M.L. King Boulevard and 10th Street.

The 691-unit initial phase of the Douglas Heights complex could nearly double to 1,500 units over time, according to its developer, Chris Curtis of Riverside Development. The $40 million first phase of the development already occupies an entire city block and could spread into a former TVA garage across 10th Street, if demand warrants.

Over the past couple of years, a South Carolina development firm, Walk2Campus, also has redeveloped four downtown buildings for off-campus UTC student housing along Vine and Houston streets.

UTC now has about 3,300 housing units for students, which covers about one third of the university’s student body. But Cantrell said there is a demand for far more housing on or near campus.

Kim White, executive director of River City Co., said even with what is being planned for downtown, there is still more demand to add housing in the central city and near the UTC campus. With the rise of Chattanooga’s Innovation District anchored in the Edney Building at 11th and Market streets, demand for downtown housing still exceeds the available supply, White said.

“There is so much demand for downtown housing right now, and as we add more residents in the central city that should create even more activity, excitement and retail and restaurant opportunities,” White said.

Most of the new apartments, including what Green Real Estate is proposing, include space for commercial and restaurant locations on the ground floor.

Read said the developers are still looking for first-floor retail restaurant or retail tenants. The new Vine 422 is expected to be completed by the spring of 2016.



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