Chattanooga region's first drive-through-only Dunkin' planned for South Broad Street

FILE- In this Jan. 22, 2018, file photo shows the Dunkin' Donuts logo on a shop in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Dunkin' is dropping the donuts — from its name, anyway. Doughnuts are still on the menu, but the company is renaming itself "Dunkin'" to reflect its increasing emphasis on coffee and other drinks. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

It's a busy commuter route. It's a good, visible route.

South Broad Street in Chattanooga continues to see new investment with plans for Dunkin's first drive-through-only store in the region.

Dunkin' franchisee Bluemont Group is buying the land for the unit from WDEF-TV and putting up the new store next door to the station at 3300 Broad St., said Dave Baumgartner, the company's president.

"It's a busy commuter route," he said. "It's a good, visible route. We're excited about the area."

Margo Hughes, Knoxville-based Bluemont's marketing director, said the drive-through-only concept is the franchisee's first among 1o units in Chattanooga more than 40 in its network. Bluemont's footprint includes Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville and, soon, Birmingham, she said.

"It's our first in the whole network," Hughes said.

Baumgartner said plans are to start work late this year and open the store around March 2020. He estimated the unit will employ up to 25 people. The investment is projected at between $1 million and $1.8 million, Baumgartner said.

Hughes said that in addition to commuter traffic, there is some industry located nearby. Sanofi has a production plant close by.

"The development guys tend to watch traffic a long time before making a decision," she said. "They saw that it has a lot of potential."

The South Broad District just outside of downtown is seeing a variety of new projects and more is planned.

This spring, a developer won approval for a new Publix supermarket to anchor a shopping center at the former Mt. Vernon restaurant after a hard-fought battle with neighbors.

Design work is underway on the new store which is expected to have a layout similar to the Publix's North Market Street unit.

George Chase of the development group Alliance Realty Services will build a section of the Tennessee Riverwalk through the property, along with landscaping on South Broad.

Also, one of the biggest new housing and commercial projects in the South Broad Street corridor in years is planned with hundreds of townhouses, apartments or condos slated for the site.

A 15.6-acre tract off West 33rd Street across from Chattanooga Christian School could hold up to about 450 housing units, according to planning documents.

In nearby St. Elmo, a mix of shops, residences, offices, parking and a boutique hotel are included in a plan for the heart of that area in a $21 million project.

Contact Mike Pare at [email protected] or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.