The long-awaited North Shore Publix is on track to open in mid-August, a Publix spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The sprawling high-end grocery store and 230-car parking lot is nearly complete in the 300 block of North Market Street. Workers were hanging signs, paving sidewalks, planting bushes and hammering awnings Wednesday.
The project, which was hotly contested when in the planning stages, was initially scheduled to open in early 2014 but was delayed.
In order to help the essentially suburban store fit into the North Shore's urban environment, city planners required Publix to add a strip of leasable retail shops to the North Market side of the grocery store. A Great Clips, AT&T store and walk-in health clinic are planned for those side shops.
The grocery store will feature all the normal strappings of a Publix, including a meat department, seafood bar and pharmacy. Publix will hire about 125 people to work at the store, promoting management from within but hiring other positions locally during the coming weeks.
People interested in working at the new Publix should apply at one of the three other Publix stores in the area, said Publix spokeswoman Brenda Reid. She declined to say how much money Publix spent to build the new grocery store.
Traffic was snarled along North Market for months while workers put up the building, widened the road with turn lanes and added a traffic light at the intersection of North Market and East Manning.
Jason Havron, co-president of the Hill City Neighborhood Association, said he's very happy with how the Publix turned out, although he is worried about continuing heavy traffic in the area.
"I think for the first couple months it's going to be a traffic nightmare," he said. "The trucks are going to have to figure how to get in and out with the traffic on North Market. But basically speaking I think it's just a wonderful idea. I'm real happy with it."
The store is expected to serve about a 3-mile radius, which will reach parts of Signal Mountain and most of downtown. The store could help end one of the city's food deserts, Havron pointed out.
"Now the people who live over in the Westside can catch a bus to the grocery store, shop and catch a bus back home," he said. "There is a choice besides Buehler's Market or some small store that charges outrageous prices."
A few other new shops sprung up in the area after the Publix was announced, including a MurMaid Mattress at 307 N. Market and Scenic City Eye Care at 309 N. Market.
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