Thursday, August 16, 2012
Hill City residents are, for the most part, eating up the prospect of a grocery store moving into their neighborhood on North Market Street, a plan which was discussed with developers at the two most recent meetings of the Hill City Neighborhood Association.
“It’s really exciting,” said HCNA president Rhiannon Maynard. “Folks have wanted a grocery store for a long time.”
She said residents who cannot afford to shop at Greenlife currently must go to Save-A-Lot or Bi-Lo in Red Bank.
“Some folks even go to Walgreens or Family Dollar,” said Maynard.
The North Market Street development’s grocery tenant has yet to sign a lease, but developer ARS Ventures implied it may be a Publix by mentioning descriptive factors of the likely tenant, including its green logo, Florida base and three stores already in the Chattanooga market.
Publix opened its first store in the Chattanooga area in East Brainerd five years ago, followed by two more stores in Hixson and Ooltewah in 2008.
“We’re always looking for new opportunities to grow,” said Publix spokesperson Brenda Reid. “It is our policy to comment only on sites that are confirmed and we have a signed lease on. At this time I do not have a confirmed new site in the Chattanooga area.”
The site on North Market Street takes up two entire blocks; bounded by Kent Street on the south, North Market Street on the west, Bush Street on the north and Woodland Avenue to the east.
“When people visualize [the site] they think of North Market Street and see the vacant lot,” said Maynard, although the site also includes neighboring properties within those two blocks that contain structures which would be torn down, such as businesses K Boutique and Nell’s Home & Gifts.
While some residents expressed secondary concerns about an increase in traffic or the project’s design, the overall reaction in the area has been very positive, said Maynard.
“Build it and we will come,” said Hill City resident Reba Miller, explaining that she would really like to have another grocery option nearby.
“The only [grocery store] we have over here is Greenlife, which caters to a specific demographic,” said North Chattanooga resident Jennifer Melda, a Florida native who said she wants a Publix in the area. “This is a basic grocery store that provides more options. “I’m also excited to clean up an empty lot and bring more people into the area.”
Phil Whitfield of TWH Architects said the planned design of the 48,000-square-foot building is intended to look like an old converted warehouse. The exterior would be simple and all-brick, with a two-story look from the front and different types of openings such as garage-style doors, although the facility is planned to be only one story.
Hill City resident Jessica Martin asked if a multi-story building had been considered in order to make better use of the land. Whitfield responded that another story or parking deck could be added in the future, but neither are included in current plans.
Joe Sawyer of DC Sawyer Design Group Inc. said the development, set to be approximately the size of Greenlife, would also include a 2,500-square-foot space ideal for a coffee shop or other gathering place.
Parking at the site would include four spaces per every 1,000 square feet of building space.
Since the store’s opening would bring 100-125 jobs to the area, Maynard said the association is requesting the store hold its first job fair in the Hill City neighborhood, though no commitment from the grocer has been made.
“In an area that really needs jobs, we really want the residents who live closest and want to work there to have the first chance,” she said.
Developers are currently in the process of attempting to rezone the entire site to C-7 commercial, which will be put to a vote by City Council in September. Construction on the project should begin next spring pending approval, they said.