Ingles considers new superstore

Jeremy Nash-News-Herald

As the local economy starts to turn around, Ingles Markets officials look to resume plans originally considered five years ago.

Representatives for the grocery store have submitted documents and spoken with city officials about constructing an 80,098-square-foot Ingles Superstore beside the current store at the corner of McGhee Boulevard and U.S. Highway 321, Beth Collins, Lenoir City assistant codes enforcement officer, said.

Site approval plans will be discussed at the next Lenoir City Regional Planning Commission meeting.

"We've got construction plans that we're looking over now, and they're on the planning commission's agenda for site plan approval for the improvements and everything," Collins said. In 2008, plans were to replace the current Ingles with a 90,000-square-foot building.

According to the Loudon County Property Assessor's Office, Ingles owns 10 acres behind the current location. The land was purchased in September 2008 for $1.3 million.

Collins said Ingles could consider marketing the unused land at some point to potential businesses.

City Councilman Eddie Simpson said the plans presented in 2008 looked "great," and stressed the importance of keeping up with the competition.

"I think that everybody has to update their image to be able to compete, you know, through time, and I think it's a smart move for everybody," Simpson said. "You have to compete and to do that you have to draw the crowd and you have to have a good image and a current image to be able to do that, and I understand they're going to have petroleum products, gasoline, all that stuff out front this time."

A gas station would be positioned along Highway 321 where the grassy knoll is located, Collins said.

"Once they get the new one open, in the meantime, they said they were going to be working on a tenant to lease out the old Ingles space, and then they are proposing a gas station up in their grassy section up toward 321," Collins said. "They just said that they were going to be actively searching for a tenant so that when they got the new one open, a potential tenant could go right in so that they don't have an empty building for very long."

Collins said issues the commission had with Ingles' plans in 2008 have since been considered and will be fixed. One notable problem dealt with stormwater drainage.

"We met on site out there with representatives from Ingles and from the firm that's going to be handling all of this and addressed a lot of concerns and that was a big one, it is, and they are aware of that," Collins said. "There is some tile work that's going to have to be done, some drainage work that's going to have to be done. The parking lot's going to have to be reconfigured."

South Carolina-based Land Planning Associates Inc., is the company responsible for site planning. John Cox, engineer for the firm, declined comment.

Ron Freeman, chief financial officer with Ingles, said it was too early to determine what the final improvements will look like or when construction will begin.

"We've enjoyed being part of the Lenoir City community since 1978 and are looking forward to bringing our customers an even better shopping experience," Freeman said in an email.