published Saturday, August 13th, 2011

IHop fought over congestion

When the International House of Pancakes builds a new restaurant, iHop representative Marla Chaliff said she usually receives a warm welcome.

But the pancake giant’s push to build an iHop on Gunbarrel Road has run into stiff opposition from city officials, even though some neighbors say they’re in favor of the project, Chaliff said.

“Usually I have mayors calling me up and begging me to put in an iHop,” she said. “This was unexpected.”

Jack Benson, Chattanooga city councilman and member of the planning board that reviews zoning changes, says he objects to the project because it doesn’t fit with the land use plan for East Brainerd.

“[Hamilton Place] will be a throwaway mall unless we restrict the commercial growth and keep it from ruining those neighborhoods,” Benson said.

Shoppers could begin to stay away from the already busy area, and homeowners could search for new places to live if traffic gets any worse, or if commercial development in the area gets out of control, he said.

“If you put high-traffic businesses in there, you would really have a snarl,” Benson said.

Chaliff and developer Bassam Issa requested a meeting with neighbors Thursday to make their case for the construction of the pancake restaurant, which would sit just across the street from the Target shopping center.

Neighbors are meeting at noon at the Heritage House to discuss the project, she said.

“I would bet donuts to dollars that the people who say they’re neighbors and say they’re against it, they’re not actually neighbors who live right there,” Chaliff said. “I spent most of yesterday sitting on doorsteps and talking to these people.”

Chaliff argued that iHop, which is traditionally open 24 hours, is an alcohol-free family restaurant that wouldn’t pose a problem during rush hour and would add to the area’s tax base.

“We’re going to bring about 75 jobs in construction-related trades, and an additional 75 people hired within the restaurant, and about $200,000 in taxes,” she said.

The property is zoned for office use, a so-called low intensity use. Previous efforts to turn it into a commercial zone to support a restaurant were rejected, Benson said, and he intends to continue to “hold the line.”

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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KWVeteran said...

Benson is wrong.

August 13, 2011 at 8:39 a.m.
keithandmissy said...

Seriously, iHop? The reporter needs to know that the International House of Pancakes is not related to Apple. It's IHOP.

August 13, 2011 at 2:16 p.m.
Echo said...

The problem with iHOP is it's not international at all. I ordered a stack of cakes at Hixson's International House of Pancakes in a Laotian tribal dialect and the waitress just had this bewildered look on her face and stared at me as if I had ordered pancakes in Laotian tribal dialect. Then when I tried to leave, I realized I was stuck to the table from 3 day old boysenberry syrup and they had to call the fire department to pry me loose. This whole thing is a conspiracy between the United Auto Workers and those jack booted thugs over at the Cracker Barrel that want to keep their monopoly on charging a premium price for lousy coffee, cold greasy food, and service from people that wished they had not been so stoned before they dropped out of high school.

August 13, 2011 at 5:05 p.m.
NorthChatter said...

The irony of worrying about congestion in the Hamilton Place area...well, you're about 15 years too late on that one. That mall has literally eaten neighborhoods whole.

August 13, 2011 at 5:54 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

Who is paying off Benson to block this this? He really needs to be voted out the next go around.

August 13, 2011 at 8:53 p.m.
cinderella said...

Let's see a little old IHOP is going to cause all manner of traffic issues BUT a 9,000 something unit apartment complex 1 block from East Brainerd Road and Gunbarrell-- no problem! If you live in that district you need to throw that jerk out next election.

August 15, 2011 at 8:11 a.m.
ChattGMom said...

Well, I DO live in the district and I am pretty surprised and upset by Benson's comments. The first thing that came to my mind was, "Who is paying him off?" IHOP would be a great addition, especially where they are proposing to place the restaurant. There are MANY folks who go to work early in that area and would love to have a restaurant of that type that is open those hours. Besides, have you ever tried to get into a restaurant in the area ANY time lately? Not only would the "Mall" not suffer from IHOP coming in, I think the folks who come shopping early from Dalton, and other outlying areas would love to have such an option for dining- at early and late hours. Benson is WAY out of touch with the reality of the area and our needs.

August 16, 2011 at 9:31 p.m.
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