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Staff photo by Mike Pare / Heavy equipment readies the site of a planned Chipotle Mexican Grill on Highway 153 in Hixson.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is planning its second Chattanooga location with a restaurant to open in Hixson.

Site work is underway at 5242 Highway 153 on part of a tract that for many years held the Pep Boys auto store, according to a Chattanooga building permit.

Chipotle spokesman Tyler Benson said plans are for the Hixson restaurant to open next summer, though he declined further comment.

The permit put the construction cost of the building's shell by CBI General Contractors of Cumming, Georgia, at $200,000.

The property was sold last July to Highway 153 Partnership GP, according to the Hamilton County Assessor of Property's Office. The company's address is listed by the assessor's office as 817 Broad St., Suite 201. A search of that address showed that hotel company Dynamic Group is located there.

Dynamic Group opened a 140-room, $19 million Holiday Inn and Suites in downtown Chattanooga at Chestnut and Fifth streets in 2015, and it has a handful of other hotels in the area. Dynamic Group did not return a call for comment.

Late last year, Chipotle opened its first Chattanooga restaurant on Gunbarrel Road near Hamilton Place mall.

The fast-casual eatery said then that the restaurant would employ about 25 people. The restaurant menu includes burritos, burrito bowls, tacos, salads and is known for its chips and guacamole.

The Chipotle is another restaurant option in the Hixson area, which has seen an array of new eateries open in the past few years.

Chattanooga developer Bassam Issa has attracted a couple of restaurants to new space nearby he's building at the former Firestone auto repair shop adjacent to Northgate Mall. He said that a Buddy's Bar-b-q restaurant is expected to open in January.

It will join a new Panera Bread eatery as an existing restaurant near Hixson Pike relocates with a new drive-through feature. Panera is to open in the spring, Issa said. Also, Issa redeveloped the former Kmart on Highway 153 where he attracted a Texas Roadhouse.

Northgate Mall owner CBL Properties wooed Aubrey's restaurant and Panda Express to a location next to the shopping center.

Developer Clint Wolford drew First Watch, California Tortilla and Mike's Tavern to a nearby site at Highway 153 and Hamill Road.

Often, Issa said, national restaurant chains such as Chipotle which put a location in East Brainerd will also do so in Hixson.

"Chattanooga is a two-wing bird," he said. Since Chipotle opened an eatery on Gunbarrel, Issa said that "it's a natural thing" to open another in Hixson.

Both markets have similar demographics in terms of people, incomes and new rooftops, he said.

"They have the same needs," Issa said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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