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Contributed photo by Food City / Rendering by Franklin Architects shows the supermarket, towhomes and commercial development to be built along the 1300 block of South Broad Street by Food City. The new grocery is scheduled to open in the spring of 2023.

CORRECTION: This story was updated Friday, August 27, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. to correct the spelling of Abingdon, Virginia.

Food City will soon begin construction on the first full-scale supermarket to be built in downtown Chattanooga in a half century, but the new supermarket at South Broad and Main Street won't open until the spring of 2023.

Food City is building the first multi-use complex the grocery chain has ever built to include not only a 53,000-square-foot grocery store but also a 115-seat eating area, 16,000 square feet of retail and offices on two levels along the 1300 block of Broad Street and six 2-story townhouses to be erected along 13th Street.

"We are confident that this will be a very enjoyable and fun place to dine and shop, as well as a complimentary addition to the neighborhood," Food City President Steve Smith said Wednesday during an announcement of the new store.

The downtown Chattanooga Food City is one of three new stores in the region planned by the Abingdon, Virginia-based supermarket chain, which entered the Chattanooga market in 2015 when Food City acquired 29 local Bi-Lo stores.

Food City also announced plans Wednesday to replace one of its East Ridge supermarkets with a new and bigger store by next spring and the grocery chain said it also plans to expand into Bartow County in Georgia with a new supermarket in Cartersville, Georgia by next summer.

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Food City to add new stores in Chattanooga area, Georgia

Each of the new stores will cost more than $15 million to build and equip, Smith said.

"It is a significant investment and one that we are proud to make and one that shows that we have a lot of confidence in these communities," he said.

The downtown Food City is being built on the site of the former Carter Distributing Co., one of the largest beer distributors in the region which was acquired in 2017 by Cherokee Distributing. In 2019, Cherokee shut down the Broad Street distribution facility that had operated since the 1970s and built a new warehouse on Summit Spring Way near Interstate 75 in Collegedale.

Blair Carter, the former owner of Carter Distributing, sold the South Broad Street site earlier this month for more than $5.7 million to a limited partnership formed by the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Keith Corp., which will own the land and grant a ground lease for Food City to build its new facility.

"There 's a lot of residential growth on Chattanooga's Southside and this area has historically been underserved from a grocery standpoint so this project has a lot of potential," said Knox Campbell, a Chattanooga native who specializes in acquisitions for the Keith Corp.

The new Broad Street Food City is designed to conform with the city's form-based code and had to be redesigned to meet Chattanooga's downtown urban building standards.

The new downtown Food City will be the first full-service supermarket in Chattanooga's central city since the former Red Food Stores built its supermarket in the Golden Gateway on the Westside more than 50 years ago. That store closed in the 1990s and a smaller downtown grocer, Buehler's Grocery, closed in 2017.

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly said the central city needs a grocery store like what Food City will add within a couple of years.

"Successful communities offer a complete mix of uses—with jobs, goods, services, and culture accessible within a short walk or bike from home," Kelly said in a statement about the new grocery outlet. "As Chattanooga continues to grow, this new Food City is a shining example of how quality urban design and land use can make our downtown more livable and connected—and, by bringing fresh healthy food to a neighborhood that needs it, more equitable."

The downtown Chattanooga store will include an in-store bakery and deli offering fresh baked goods, deli meats, cheeses, hot foods, fireplace, fresh sushi, hickory smoker, pizza oven, Asian wok, fresh food bar offering a variety of soup, salad and fruit selections.

The food court will offer a restaurant-quality experience for breakfast, lunch, and dinner into the evening. Full-service meat and seafood departments will offer pre-marinated/seasoned oven ready products, a complete selection of top-quality meats, including Certified Angus Beef. In-house meat cutters will be available to hand cut steaks and fresh meat to order.

The location will also feature a Food City Pharmacy, equipped with a private consultation room and walk-up outdoor pick-up window, Starbucks café, offering a wide assortment of blended hot and cold coffees and beverages, as well as an assortment of tasty breakfast sandwiches and pastries, and convenient home delivery services for customers wishing to shop online.

"In addition to great food, we anticipate being able to offer beer and wine in a friend-welcoming atmosphere," said Dan Glei, Food City senior vice president of merchandising/marketing.

In East Ridge, Food City is planning a new store at Ringgold Road and Bales Avenue that is nearly 60% bigger than the 34,000-square-foot store it will replace. Food City expects to open the new store, which will also include a Gas n' Go fuel center, by next spring.

"We're extremely proud to partner with the City of East Ridge to convert a somewhat blighted piece of property in the Border Region District into a modern state-of-the-art supermarket and we're hopeful that the project will serve as a catalyst to promote other development in the area as well," Smith said.

In the border zone, a portion of the additional state sales tax revenues generated by the new investment can be used to finance the construction costs of the new building.

Officials with the city believe the amount of added services the new store plans to offer will draw shoppers from well beyond East Ridge, including the Brainerd area, Missionary Ridge, and parts of North Georgia.

"The additional services, products, and jobs the new store will provide to our area is incredible," East Ridge Mayor Brian Williams said.

Food City is building its biggest new store in Cartersville at the intersection of Joe Frank Harris Parkway and Mac Johnson Road. The 59,000-square-foot supermarket is expected to open next summer.

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

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