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Staff photo by John Rawlston / The former Pruett's grocery store building on Cherokee Boulevard is undergoing renovation and work is taking place to shore up a bank at the site.

A Winchester, Tenn., law firm said in early 2014 that it planned to remake a former North Shore grocery store into offices, but more than two years later work is still ongoing and months from completion.

Floyd Davis of the Davis, Kessler and Davis law firm cited city inspections as slowing down the renovation of the former Pruett's store on Cherokee Boulevard near Manning Street.

"It took a long time to make the city happy," Davis said last week, adding that it "has to inspect every nail."

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A Winchester, Tenn., law firm announced plans more than two years ago to turn a former Pruett's grocery store building on Cherokee Boulevard into offices.

But the head of the city's Land Development Office took issue with such claims, denying that the inspections process has slowed work on the building.

"I wouldn't agree with that at all," said Gary Hilbert, who directs the office that conducts the inspections.

Hilbert said the project had a pair of failed building inspections. He said that the building's developer "apparently has not complied with the drawings produced by the architect."

Hilbert said the structure's makeover has been "a whole lot slower than a typical project."

"Most developers would have had this work knocked out in nine months to a year," he said, adding that the building permit was issued in December 2014.

Hilbert said it's getting close to four months without the developer calling the city for another inspection.

Davis said the project to turn the site into offices now should be ready around September and that there has been progress, such as a new roof and framing for interior walls.

"There's a lot more done on the inside than outside," he said.

Mike Skiles, owner of Suck Creek Cycle on Cherokee near Manning Street, said he'd like to see the law firm's Cherokee project move at a quicker pace.

"I've gotten used to it," he said about the site.

Skiles said he likes what's happening at other locations on Cherokee with new apartments and office space under construction.

Another apartment building on the former Loft restaurant site nearby is slated to begin in September, he said.

"I like seeing it get cleaned up," Skiles said.

Recently, work began to shore up a bank of land at the rear of the law firm's building, Davis said.

"The city got concerned when the Publix [wall] caved in," Davis said.

In February, part of a retaining wall in the North Shore Publix collapsed. That was about two months after record rainfall caused a seam to split up the middle of the wall, prompting employees to block off a portion of the parking lot with shopping carts.

"When we get the bank finished, things will move quickly," Davis said.

Hilbert said the city didn't make the developers at the Cherokee Boulevard site do work on the bank because of the Publix situation.

Davis said the building will look "really unique" when it takes down sheets of wood on the exterior and starts installing about 150 feet of windows.

"When the windows get up, it will look like a totally different place," he said.

In early 2014, Davis valued the project at costing from $1.3 million to $1.9 million, including the purchase price of the structure.

Since that time, he said, the firm has had a lot of people interested in buying the structure or renting space.

Davis said the firm will probably put three lawyers in the building and rent out about 10,000 square feet.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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