Updated at 5:23 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26, 2018.
We are listening to the community and addressing the concerns that have been raised about the site.
The developer of a proposed Publix supermarket off South Broad Street is trying to move ahead under existing zoning, but it's seeking a variance for the building from city planners.
Also, the development team is looking at adding retail shops along South Broad between the main entrance from South Broad and West 35th Street — an idea offered by St. Elmo area residents earlier this month as similar to the North Shore Publix.
"We are listening to the community and addressing the concerns that have been raised about the site while balancing the needs of the prospective grocer and retail shops that are interested in being a part of this development," said Mike Price of MAP Engineers.
Price said that through conversations with planners, "we are working on improving the current design to move forward under the urban general commercial (UGC) zone that we think will meet the expectations of all parties involved."
Price, representing the store's developer, told residents that a variance related to the size of the grocery store is expected to be sought from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission likely at its July 9 meeting.
He said the variance would allow the proposed 32,000-square-foot building to be constructed under UGC zoning.
In addition, the proposed driveway nearest the intersection of St. Elmo Avenue and South Broad has been eliminated under a new proposal, Price said. That means only one driveway onto St. Elmo Avenue and the nearby planned Tennessee Riverwalk. In place of this driveway, there would be a right turn out only onto South Broad located along the southern portion of the parking lot, he said.
"There are ongoing discussions with regards to the site plan and revisions with city staff," Price said. "Once plans are further developed we will share them at that time."
Jim Johnson of Chattanoogans for Responsible Development said he hasn't seen the potential new design for the grocery store, but it appears more appropriate than one which drew considerable opposition earlier.
"If this isn't really appropriate even within the zoning, we'll fight the variance, too," he said. "This needs to be correct. It will be here a long time. It sets a precedent for the corridor."
Johnson said at the very least the new effort "is heading in the right direction."
"It's not about being obstructionist," he said. "Most of us want what's right for the area and Chattanooga."
At a June 11 meeting of the Planning Commission in which the developer sought a zoning change to C-2, a number of people indicated they want the developer to move at least some of the store up against South Broad rather than putting the building at the rear of the 4-acre lot with parking in front.
Representatives for the developer had talked about problems of moving the store to the road, saying the triangular tract that formerly held the Mt. Vernon restaurant made it difficult to put the supermarket against the street.
Price said earlier that if he could avoid seeking to rezone the property that he would do so. He said then that UGC zone doesn't offer enough room for the store and its 162 parking spaces.
He also said earlier this month that building the supermarket was "contingent on successful zoning."
Johnson said the development group has gone from "plan A" to a "plan B."
"Maybe it's time to go to 'C, D, E and F,'" he said.
Publix operates five other units in metro Chattanooga, including a new 45,000-square-foot store that opened in March at the Waterside development north of Hamilton Place mall.
The Mt. Vernon had operated at the foot of Lookout Mountain for 63 years before it closed its doors around Christmas of last year.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.