Conversions Planned Of 3 Struggling Chattanooga Motels Into Apartment Units

  • Thursday, December 1, 2022

A local developer is proposing changing three struggling Chattanooga motels into apartments.

Zoning change requests have been filed for the Motel 6 at 7707 Lee Highway near Bonny Oaks Drive, the America's Best Inn nearby at 7717 Lee Highway and the Knights Inn at 3655 Cummings Highway in Lookout Valley.

The City Council recently turned down a similar request for a Motel 6 on Brainerd Road after some neighborhood opposition.

Carey Thornhill of Thornhill Management Group said of the three proposals, "The current usage is a dying concept, particularly due to the transient nature of the model and moreover the amount of potential housing units that go unused on a monthly basis."

He said, "We feel confident UCG zoning would be the most appropriate zoning to utilize all current doors associated with the building."

Mr. Thornhill said his group "has worked in the affordable housing sector in the Chattanooga market for just over 15 years. We've seen the immense need for affordable housing and saw a great opportunity in transitioning this motel into an opportunity that provides suitable and cost effective housing for a community in need of affordable yet quality housing."

He said there would be no change to the building footprints.

The Motel 6 on Lee Highway has 94 rooms, the America's Best Inn has 64, and the Knights Inn has 60 rooms.

In the Brainerd case, community leaders said the owner there refused to knock down any walls for larger units and said it was "inhumane" to have apartments of some 550 square feet.

The Brainerd owner argued that with the apartment model that residents could be screened much better. He said it should cut down sharply on the number of police and medical calls to the site.

The Lee Highway Motel 6 and America's Best Inn are in the same block where the city of Chattanooga sparked controversy by buying the Airport Inn with plans to fix it up for homeless individuals.

The Planning Commission is due to hear the zoning cases for the Thornhill projects on Dec. 12.

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