Residents of the North Shore will get a neighborhood grocery store next year following the North Shore Design Review Committee's Nov. 7 approval of the fifth rendition of the design plan submitted by developers for a Publix grocery store.
The majority of residents in attendance supported the decision, with 15 publicly speaking in favor of the project's approval. Those who advocated for the project included local architects, city planners and developers such as John Wise.
"We've been talking about this for too long and it's time to see it actually happen," he said.
"One of the things we're really missing in the downtown area is a grocery store," said longtime North Chattanooga resident Thomas Lee, adding that when Food King and North Shore Market left the Hill City area so did the availability of affordable food.
Out of the roughly 8,000 people living in the Hill City neighborhood, 69 percent are below the poverty line, said John Bilderback, Step ONE program manager for the Hamilton County Health Department.
"Not a lot of those people are going to be shopping at Greenlife," he said, adding that a bus trip to the nearest grocery store currently takes at least an hour each way.
Chattanooga District 1 City Councilwoman Deborah Scott, who represents the Hill City area, said some of her constituents must rent a taxi to get to the grocery store. The new Publix will put the area's residents within one mile of a reliable, healthy source of food, she noted.
"The businesses adjacent are very happy about this," Scott said to the committee. "I thank you so much for not accepting the first plan and letting it evolve to what it is today."
Developers have listened to requests made by the committee and the community over the course of three meetings, during which a total of 39 residents voiced their opinion, and made related changes including rotating the building away from downtown toward North Market Street and adding retail space to the overall development.
Construction is slated to begin on the one-story building, which features an industrial warehouse-style design befitting the neighborhood, this spring and the store is set to open in late 2013.