published Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Details on proposed North Shore Publix unclear


by Cliff Hightower

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The North Shore Design Review Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. today in Room 1A of the Development Resource Center, 1250 Market St

No member of the public has seen the designs for a proposed grocery store on the North Shore, and developers aren't sharing.

But the community will get to see the proposal for the store — assumed to be a Publix — today at a meeting of the North Shore Design Review Committee.

And already some people are worried.

"My concern is that it will look like a suburban-type store," said Jenny Shugart, the city's former historic preservation planner and a North Chattanooga resident.

The proposed grocery store would be on North Market Street straddling East Manning Street. The City Council next week will consider closing a portion of Manning to accommodate the store.

George Chase, with property developer ARC Ventures LLC, said Wednesday he had no comment on the project.

Tom Austin, a local developer who is representing ARC Ventures, said he thinks the design fits in well with the community.

"It's an old warehouse concept," he said.

The developers said they have not looked into other potential designs. One type of Publix that has been built in urban areas involves a vertical design with separate floors.

"Those are in high-density areas," Austin said. "You'd see those in places like Manhattan."

A multistory Publix grocery is being built in Knoxville off Cumberland Avenue near the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Shugart said she has seen earlier designs that show the store placed on the lot with its side turned toward North Market. She said North Shore design guidelines call for Market Street frontage and a more mixed-use-type building.

A multistory grocery store would be a better fit with the urban design the community seeks, Shugart said.

"It would fit our guidelines," she said.

Gary Hilbert, the city's director of codes and inspection, said the design committee will have a chance to approve, defer or ask for further design changes. The developers want to start construction by spring 2013, he said.

But Hilbert also has not seen the new designs, and he is as curious as anyone else on what the committee's reaction will be if the design involves a strip mall-type box store facing Frazier Avenue.

"I don't know what the committee will do," he said.

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