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Discount grocer Aldi plans to open a new store near Signal Mountain to service the surrounding area as the company continues to grow its Chattanooga footprint.

Plans are to open the new store in the second half of 2017, said Troy Marshall, vice president of the Aldi division that serves the Chattanooga area.

"We look forward to providing the community with high-quality groceries at the lowest possible prices," Marshall said in a statement.

Aldi officials wouldn't provide a specific location, saying that details are still being finalized.

However, the site of the former Kmart store off Signal Mountain Road near Mountain Creek Road has been considered for the new store, according to two people.

Tom Cofer, who represents the Florida owners of the Signal Mountain Road site, said there have been preliminary discussions about an Aldi store at the old Kmart location, but there's nothing definite.

"I can't comment at this time," he said.

B&B Discount Sales owner Duane "Bud" Hixson, who has leased the former Kmart building for the past seven years, said he heard Aldi is looking at one end of that property.

Hixson said he'd still be able to operate his business even if Aldi builds a store at the site.

Red Bank Mayor John Roberts said that nearby city would like to add a grocery store.

"I'm guessing [Aldi] made their choice," he said. "We'll keep recruiting and pounding the pavement. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don't."

Amy Donahue, director of marketing and communication for the downtown nonprofit redevelopment group River City Co., said there's also still room for another grocer in the city center.

"Aldi is an interesting concept. It is in some ways a destination grocer," she said, adding that the new store will service Signal Mountain and the surrounding area.

But, Donahue said, with a lot of new apartments built, underway or planned downtown, there's a need for a grocery store south of the Tennessee River.

Last October, Aldi opened its newest Chattanooga area store in Ooltewah as part of the larger White Oak Crossing shopping center going up off of Lee Highway.

Aldi said then the Ooltewah store offers a new, larger layout for the company in the area, with about 18,000 square feet. She said that gives the store space to hold an enhanced produce department. Other improvements included high ceilings, natural lighting and environmentally friendly building materials.

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

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