published Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Developer eyes 2 new projects in Catoosa County, Ga.

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The man who helped bring a Costco warehouse store to Fort Oglethorpe has two new retail developments in the works in Catoosa County, Ga.

And no, they won't be anchored by a Bass Pro Shop or a Publix Super Market.

"I have heard the Bass Pro rumor for years and just more recently the one about Publix. Neither are factual," said Larry Armour of Armour Commercial Real Estate in Ooltewah.

Time will tell what businesses open on the two sites Armour is developing: 25 acres between Scruggs Road and Interstate 75 next to Costco and some 52 acres on the north and south sides of Battlefield Parkway next to Walmart.

"I can only say that we've had several meaningful conversations with very quality tenants, but at this point we have no leases signed. Hopefully with the next 60 to 90 days," Armour said.

The Battlefield Parkway project will feature a new intersection and traffic signal just west of Kellerhals Lane. To the north, the intersection will lead to the west edge of the Crye-Leike Center parking lot and to an Armour parcel planned to be home to a new restaurant or restaurants. To the south, the intersection will connect to a long road leading to a roughly 120,000-square-foot shopping center set back next to Walmart.

"This will be a typical shopping center with typical national anchors," Armour said.

A $500,000 subsidy to build the new intersection and traffic signal for Armour's Battlefield Parkway project is being provided by Catoosa County Development Authority and the city of Fort Oglethorpe.

If, after seven years, the sales and property taxes from the development don't generate $500,000 for the city, county and Catoosa County Schools, Armour has signed a promissory note pledging to make up the difference.

"He's actually putting his money where his mouth is," Catoosa County Attorney C. Chad Young said. The new development will be worth $18 million and should generate $32 million in annual sales, according to the agreement among Armour, the city and county.

The county and Fort Oglethorpe previously helped subsidize Armour's Costco project by spending $4.5 million to move about 1 million cubic yards of dirt and rock from the warehouse club site on Cloud Springs Road, expecting to get the money back through taxes -- though there was no agreement to that effect.

"This one, frankly, there's even less risk," Young said. "Costco was a pretty safe bet. This one is a safer bet."

The request for proposals to make the intersection improvements went out Tuesday. Bids will be opened on Sept. 12.

"We're looking at a 60-day construction period. It'll start in October," said civil engineer Wayne McCoy, who's president of Miller-McCoy, the Chattanooga engineering consulting firm overseeing the new intersection's construction.

Work will include cutting an opening in the median so westbound traffic can pull into the new shopping center next to Walmart and so eastbound traffic can pull into the Crye-Leike Plaza.

Battlefield Parkway is wide enough to route traffic onto the shoulders while work's being done in the median, McCoy said.

"It's going to have some [traffic] impact, but we're going to try to mitigate it," he said. The intersection should be done before Christmas, he said.

The Battlefield Parkway land next to Walmart used to be the site of a mobile home sales lot. Much of it floods, so dirt piled up at the Scruggs Road property is being hauled to build up the Battlefield Parkway land.

Contact Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

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