New grocery store proposed for Walden on Signal Mountain along with more office and retail space

New grocery store proposed for Walden on Signal Mountain along with more office and retail space

April 4th, 2019 by Mike Pare in Breaking News

A new grocery store is proposed in Walden on Signal Mountain as shown in this rendering.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Updated at 7:31 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, 2019, with more information.

A developer is again seeking to put a new grocery store on Signal Mountain as part of a larger project.

Plans are to build a 49,000-square-foot grocery store along with 10,000 square feet of office or retail space at Taft Highway and Timesville Road in Walden, according to a rezoning request filed with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency.

WHAT’S NEXT

A rezoning request is slated to be heard by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission on May 13 at 1 p.m. at the Courthouse.

The tract of land has been used for many years by the Lines Orchids Greenhouse, the application said. The parcel was recently sold to a development group identified as LOP LLC for $1.85 million.

The name of the grocery store wasn't identified.

Last year, the Signal Mountain Town Council voted to deny a rezoning request that would allow a Food City store there. At that time, the Keith Corp. planned to build a 38,000-square-foot Food City behind what is now an existing shopping center.

On Thursday, Food City didn't immediately return a phone call for comment.

Chattanooga attorney John Anderson, representing the ownership group, said it doesn't have anything to add at this time.

"We will be in touch as the development progresses," he said in an email.

Chuck Pruett, who owns Pruett's Market atop Signal Mountain, said he doesn't think another grocery store is needed. But if Walden residents want it, they should have one, he said.

"It doesn't surprise me," he said. "I think the objective is to put me out of business. I don't think the mountain is big enough for two stores."

Pruett said his 20,000-square-foot store, which is marking 40 years, was recently updated.

"If Food City or whoever decides to come up here and compete against a locally well-run, service-oriented grocery store, we welcome the competition," he said.

The new request to rezone the 9-acre site to C-1 is slated to be heard in May before the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

Scott McCandless of Lines Orchids said that the 72-year-old business plans to move to Soddy-Daisy off Jones Gap Road.

"Our facility here is old," he said. "We need room to expand and build a new facility. It's a fairly large task to move everything."

Last year, Keith Corp.'s action to try to build the Food City store drew supporters and opponents.

Signal Town Council members said then that they liked the opportunity to bring the store to the town's center, but they couldn't ignore many town residents who were against the development.

On the night of the vote, about 80 people packed into the council chambers for a special meeting with more gathering outside. Many residents donned green shirts that read, "NO BIG BOX" and "Signal Mountain voters for sustainable growth."

"I've had five people tell me they're for it," said council member Amy Speek at the time. "I can't go anywhere the last month. I'm at work getting text messages from people I don't know. To me, that's not the silent majority that is something we have to consider. We have a duty to vote in large part based on what the people who voted us in office want."

A petition online against the rezoning garnered more than 1,900 signatures.

Many of the residents' concerns included increased traffic congestion, negative environmental impacts, fear of setting a precedent for the approval of future commercial rezoning requests, and that a "big-box store" will destroy the town's small-town feel.

But, Council member Robert Spalding said then that with all the new homes being built on and around Signal Mountain, it is "inevitable" a larger store would move into the area.

But he, too, said he had to consider the majority of the population's stance on the rezoning request.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.


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