A proposed Publix, which would be the first full-service grocery store to go in Chattanooga's downtown area in about two decades, won the approval of planners on Monday.
"My wife told me not to come home if I voted against it," Dale Mabee, the chairman of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, quipped about the proposed store at 420 N. Market St.
George Chase, of the Atlanta development firm ARS Ventures, said the store would be 46,000-square-feet in size. Also, the shopping center would hold another 2,500 square feet of space along with parking.
Chase declined to identify Publix as the grocer, but referred calls to Brenda Reid, a spokeswoman for the company that already has three supermarkets in the Chattanooga area.
Reid said Publix is interested in another Chattanooga site, though she declined to be specific until the location receives full approval. The City Council still must sign off on the proposal.
If approved, work on the facility could start next year and may be finished by the end of 2013, according to an official.
About a half dozen people who live in the North Market Street area, where the store is slated to go near Manning Street, spoke before the panel. No one voiced opposition, but some people raised issues related to traffic, lighting and access.
Garnet Chapin, president of the Northside Riverfront Community Association, said its members were polled and they support the proposal with reservations.
"We think it would be great to have a supermarket of this caliber in the neighborhood," he said.
But, Chapin said, the store would generate a lot of traffic, including trucks, and that's the concern neighbors have expressed.
He also said there'd be a lot more traffic on Dallas Road near North Market, which he termed an already dangerous intersection.
"We feel a roundabout might be the best solution," Chapin said.
Chase said his company has commissioned a traffic study.
"We're working on all that," he said. "The tenant wants to be a good neighbor."