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Kmart closed its last store in Chattanooga in December. The Highway 153 store was built in 1994 and was sold last week to developer Bassam Issa.
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Seven months after Kmart shut down its last remaining store in Chattanooga, the abandoned storefront on Highway 153 has a new owner who hopes to revitalize the Hixson property by adding a restaurant on an out parcel and renovating the store building into spaces for four or more smaller tenants.

Chattanooga developer Bassam Issa, who has bought and developed retail, restaurant and office projects in East Brainerd and elsewhere in Hixson, bought the former Kmart store for $5 million last week.

"Highway 153 in Hixson is really a twin market to Gunbarrel and Shallowford Roads and if someone wants to have a store or restaurant in East Brainerd it only makes sense to have one in Hixson as well," Issa said. "This is an area where retailers are very much interested in and it's a good property to redevelop."

The Highway 153 site will be named Issa Crossing and should have its first stores or restaurants open in 2018, Issa said.

The 116,325-square-foot Kmart store was built in 1994 to replace a previous Kmart store on Hixson Pike.

Issa said he hopes to renovate the former Kmart facility into net leasable space of 80,000 to 90,000 square feet for several commercial tenants to lease. The developer said he is negotiating to lease an out parcel for a new restaurant, which he hopes can begin development in 60 to 90 days.

Kmart once operated nearly a dozen stores in the region, but the discount retailer shut down its stores in Cleveland, Athens, Sweetwater and Maryville, Tenn., in the spring and summer of 2016 before shutting down the Hixson store in December. Other Kmarts on Highway 58, Mountain Creek Road and Gunbarrel Road closed in earlier years.

Kmart plans to also shut down its Fort Oglethorpe store by September, although it will continue to operate two stores in Dalton, Ga.

Issa said rising land and construction costs have made developing new commercial properties more difficult and expensive and encouraged him to buy the former Kmart store.

"We're trying to be creative and think outside the box," he said.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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