April 2013 - Publix breaks ground on North Shore location
May 2013 - Construction is scheduled to start
January/February 2014 - New Publix is scheduled to open
The Publix grocery store planned for Chattanooga's North Shore will open in early 2014, Publix officials said at a groundbreaking ceremony Friday.
Construction on the project at the corner of Manning and North Market streets will start in May, and the store will be Publix's fourth in the Chattanooga region.
Publix already operates stores in Hixson, Ooltewah and East Brainerd. The new store is an answer to mounting demand, Publix spokeswoman Brenda Reid said.
"As we grow in the market, we come to understand where customers are coming from to shop with us," she said. "We study that data and we look at whether there is a pocket of a community that has been a strong shopper at a store nearby. For example, Signal Mountain has been asking us for a while to put a store over there."
She expects shoppers to come from a three-mile radius around the store, a distance that would include parts of downtown and Signal Mountain.
"It will probably be a very diverse customer base in this store," she said.
When finished around February 2014, the new store will employ about 125 people. Management will be promoted from within Publix, but the company expects to hire entry-level positions locally.
The company is pushing into the Chattanooga market now in order to be on the front end of Chattanooga's new development and growth, she said.
"When people shop, they tend to go to places they know and are comfortable with," she said. "So if we can get in early when the development is happening, that makes it easier for them to develop you as a part of their routine."
While the store will include Publix's normal offerings, like a meat department, seafood counter and pharmacy, it will also include 4,800 square feet of extra retail space. And the exterior of the store is unique, Reid said.
"It will be your traditional Publix with a whole new look," she said. "The aesthetic look will be designed to blend in with the community. We're looking forward to making sure we fit in."
Whether or not the essentially suburban-style Publix is a good fit for Chattanooga's North Shore has been hotly debated by both city planners and neighborhood representatives. The building won't face North Market street and will include a 230-space parking lot -- moves that don't encourage the pedestrian traffic that's common in much of the North Shore.
And planners found out at a design review meeting last week that the building will not be all brick, but will include two concrete walls.
But both Publix and city planners have made compromises to make the store a reality, said Sarah Kurtz, historic preservation planner at the Department of Public Works.
"Whenever the committee or staff had concerns, they were willing to sit down with us and see if there were other options," she said. "I think we came up with something that will be pretty cohesive."
Developer George Chase agreed to add extra windows, glass, landscaping and retail space to the building. And at last week's meeting, the North Shore Design Review Committee agreed not to require the building to be completely brick, instead requiring brick columns with integrally colored concrete blocks.
Reid declined to say how much Publix is investing into the project.
"We're glad to be here and we're glad we've finally got to this point where we can break ground and begin this process," she said.
Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at email@example.com or 423-757-6525.