This story was updated Thursday, November 12, 2020, at 7:34 pm to correct the spelling of Abingdon, Va.
Food City is looking to find the first full-scale supermarket in downtown Chattanooga.
The Abingdon, Virginia-based grocery chain, which already operates more than two dozen Food City stores in the Chattanooga area, is developing plans to find a unique two-story grocery store downtown as part of a new development on the former Carter site. Distributing warehouse Co. along Broad Street between Main and 13th Streets.
Steve Smith, president and CEO of Food City, said Thursday that Food City is developing plans to build a new 48,000 square foot supermarket along with a Food City Gas’ N Go fuel station on a 5.7 hectare site at 1305 Broad Street.
“Of course we’ve heard from many of our downtown customers express the need for a new supermarket in downtown Chattanooga,” said Smith. “We tried to listen to our customers – that’s what good companies do – and we realized that with all the new buildings and occupants coming downtown, there was a demand for such a shop.”
Chattanooga’s downtown drivers have been eager to bring large supermarkets downtown for decades, especially after the closure Grocery Bar on Main Street in 2015 after operating for only a few years and shutting down Buehler grocery store on block 400 on Market Street in 2017 after 105 years of operation.
Food City operates another wholesale outlet nearby at St. Petersburg. Elmo and on E. 23rd Street, but Smith said the proposed Broad Street location could serve residents, workers and visitors in downtown Chattanooga. Smith said the developer, who declined to identify, also wanted to include a Starbucks coffee shop, dining area, patio space and other facilities in the proposed development.
“We are very excited about the possibilities and I think this will be a unique opportunity for us,” said Smith.
Proposals for a new Food City are expected to be considered in December or in early 2021 by the Chattanooga Form-Based Code Committee, which was developed to promote urban development that conforms to city-center and North Coast policies set by the city. Food City and its developers will meet with neighbors in the downtown area in a zoom meeting next Tuesday, Smith said.
“We have been working with a developer on a proposed project and one of the steps we need to take to move forward is to meet the local environment and get their input on this project,” he said.
River City Co., a downtown development group that has helped spur nearly $ 2 billion in new and proposed developments in and around downtown Chattanooga over the past three decades, has pushed to bring the wholesale chain downtown over the years. Publix and Whole Foods (formerly Greenlife Grocery) have been located in stores on the North Shore for 21 years, but there are no major supermarkets operating in the main downtown area.
“Having fresh produce and a full-service grocery store downtown certainly improves the livability of our city and for many it will provide a pedestrian-friendly alternative to having to drive elsewhere to shop,” said Amy Donahue, marketing director for River City. Co “Having a grocery store nearby where you can walk to or catch a bus and easily visit is very important to many people when they are trying to determine where to live.”
The proposed new Food City site was once a beer distributor that once housed four separate beer wholesalers when it was founded in 1974 along a railroad on block 1300 on Broad Street. Over time, Carter Distributing Co. took over an 85,760 square foot warehouse and the property is still owned by former Carter Distribution President Blair Carter who has been trying to sell the parcels since he retired and now lives in Florida.
Carter Distributing Co., sold to Cherokee Distributing Co. based in Knoxville in 2017. Cherokee Distributing is building and opening a new warehouse on I-75 at the Volkswagen exit in Apison this year, vacating the warehouse downtown in September, Carter said.
Smith said existing facilities would be demolished and new buildings erected under the proposed development plans. Unlike most downtown sites, the one-block long parcel is sufficiently sized to accommodate ample parking for shoppers, Smith said.
Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or at 423-757-6340.