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Michael Patrick/News Sentinel / The interior of a Weigel's convenience store located on Kingston Pike in Knoxville is shown in this file photo.

A high-profile site off Highway 153 in Hixson is eyed for a new Weigel's convenience store as the company assembles locations for its entry into the Chattanooga market.

Grant Berry, a civil engineer for the firm Site Incorporated, said a development permit has been taken out on the Highway 153 tract that sits near Academy Sports + Outdoors.

"We're at the stage of permitting and due diligence prior to purchasing the property that store would go on," he said. "We want to ensure they can fit on the site what they want to fit on the site."

The vacant tract is part of a larger parcel on which an assisted living community already is planned in a more than $20 million project.

The Rosewood of Hixson, which is to hold 105 units, is slated for the start of construction next year, said Paul Eirich III, chief financial officer for Regency Senior Living.

The timing for the Weigel's store isn't known, said Berry. The chain, headquartered just outside Knoxville, did not immediately return phone calls for comment.

But, Weigel's Chief Executive Bill Weigel said last year that the company is acquiring locations so it can enter the Chattanooga market with density.

The Highway 153 site would appear to give Weigel's at least five possible locations under its control in the area.

In 2015, it identified a parcel at Signal Mountain Road and U.S. Highway 27 across from the Baylor School entrance. Also, the company tore down empty buildings at a Hixson Pike and North Access Road site, where a Backyard Burgers restaurant stood for many years before closing.

In addition, Weigel's had eyed possible locations at 5514 Brainerd Road near Spring Creek Road and 3107 Amnicola Highway, near the entrance to the Centre South Riverport.

"We're building up our number," Weigel said. "We're getting close."

He said the company would like to have a half dozen units in the area.

"You've got to have a little mass to make everything work," the company CEO said last year.

Weigel's has 64 units in East Tennessee, according to its website.

Eirich said the assisted living community on Highway 153 likely would open in 2021. It would employ about 25 people the first year and then have some 74 workers in year three, he said.

"It will definitely brings new jobs to Hixson," Eirich said.

He said Regency also operates The Rosewood in Fort Oglethorpe.

"We hope to help some seniors in the Hixson area like we've been doing in Fort Oglethorpe," Eirich said. The new site will have a mix of assisted living and memory care units, he said.

The Weigel family entered the dairy business in 1931 with four cows, according to the company. In 1958, the 500-square-foot "Store Number 1" opened in Knoxville. Walk-in stores didn't appear until 1964, the company said.

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

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