published Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Pep Boys plans East Brainerd superstore

Automotive parts retailer Pep Boys plans to open a store in East Brainerd as it enters the busy Hamilton Place market.

The company is expected to invest more than $1 million in the store that will go up off Gunbarrel Road in the Walmart shopping center, said Pep Boys Senior Vice President of Corporate Development Joe Cirelli.

The location, a former Tweeter store, sits across Gunbarrel from the mall. Cirelli said the store will be one of Pep Boys' "supercenters," which has both retail products and a vehicle service center.

Rob Nystrom, corporate development manager for the Philadelphia-based company, said customers have wondered why it doesn't have a site near Hamilton Place mall.

"It was a matter of filling a void," he said about the facility that will employ up to 25 people.

The new store isn't designed to be a relocation of its Brainerd Road location, officials said. But Cirelli said the trade areas overlap and much depends on how the store affects the Brainerd site.

Still, he said, the company has two or three years left on its Brainerd lease.

Brian Forrester of The Shopping Center Group in Nashville, which helped market the 16,000-square-foot Gunbarrel site, said work is expected to start soon with plans for the store to open this summer.

"It's got a lot of visibility," he said.

Rusty Phillips of the real estate firm Herman Walldorf & Co. in Chattanooga said there's a lot of remodeling work to be done to the building, which also had held a Blockbuster video store.

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

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