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A Chattanooga developer has plans to put a 14,100-square-foot commercial center on Gunbarrel Road on the longtime Yessick's Design Center property.

More restaurants and retail stores are headed to Gunbarrel Road as a Chattanooga developer plans a $7 million project on the busy East Brainerd corridor.

Developer Bassam Issa said he plans to build the 14,100-square-foot center on a 2.1-acre site that is to include three eateries, as well as a retail center. He said he expects to begin construction in mid-June and finish by late-2017 or early-2018.

The new development would be the third key retail addition unveiled over the past few months in the Hamilton Place area. Outdoor retailer REI and supermarket chain Publix plan to place stores in the nearby Waterside development, while Hamilton Place mall is adding H&M, the world's second- biggest fashion retailer, and a Rodizio Grill restaurant.

Issa plans to purchase the property at 1926 and 1930 Gunbarrel Road, which currently houses Yessick's Design Center, and take down the existing buildings.

Property owner Marsha Yessick said if the sale of the land goes through, she's looking at placing a new location in downtown Chattanooga because of its growth.

"We were pioneers in Gunbarrel," she said, noting she bought the site in 1986 when the artery was just two lanes. "We've loved it.

Issa said he and son Amin are currently working to finalize leases for the restaurant and retail space and wouldn't provide potential names of eateries or stores.

"I think it's going to be exciting," he said.

Issa is seeking the OK of the Chattanooga- Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission related to signage at the site. The property was rezoned from R-1 residential zone to C-2 convenience commercial district in 1988 with 12 sections of conditions.

The conditions were created before the introduction of landscape, lighting, and sign regulations which were put within the city code, according to Planning Commission staff. The staff has recommended approval of the change, which is to heard by the planning panel next Monday.

"No other property [on Gunbarrel] has those restrictions anymore," Issa said. "We're just asking to be like everybody else on the road."

Yessick said there are also Yessick's locations on Signal Mountain, Lookout Mountain and in Nashville. The Gunbarrel Road location for many years also held Yessick's Home Furnishing Center until it closed in 2015.

"We were approached by him," Yessick said about a proposed land sale. "When it's time to go, it's time to go."

Meanwhile, REI plans to open a 25,000-square-foot store at the Waterside development off Shallowford Road and Interstate-75 in the fall 2018.

"Chattanooga and the surrounding region is a special place for people who love the outdoors," said Gail Kirkland, the retail director for the company's South district. "We've watched as Chattanooga has become a hub for outdoor recreation."

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

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