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VOL. 128 | NO. 237 | Thursday, December 05, 2013

Traffic Concerns Delay Germantown Whole Foods

By Amos Maki

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The development team behind a proposed Whole Foods store in Germantown is going back to the drawing board after some neighbors expressed concerns about the project, particularly over traffic.

The development team withdrew its application from the Germantown Planning Commission’s Tuesday, Dec. 3, agenda and will return next month. After that, the development team would need approval from Germantown’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Andy Pouncey, economic and development services director for Germantown, said residents near the proposed store had expressed concerns over increased traffic flow.

“There’s a lot of emotion over there,” Pouncey said. “It’s mainly some concerns they have about traffic peeling off into in their area.”

Pouncey said residents are generally supportive of having a Whole Foods store but wanted planners and developers to explore ways to minimize potential traffic problems.

Germantown City Administrator Patrick Lawton also cited traffic as a major concern.

“There are a few engineering issues, primarily traffic, that city staff needs to address,” he said.

Whole Foods Market and local development firm Cypress Realty Holdings Co., in conjunction with Ford Jarratt Realty & Development Co., in October submitted plans to the city of Germantown to develop a 41,000-square-foot, freestanding Whole Foods store.

Joe Jarratt of Cypress Realty said Wednesday that the development team was exploring several ways to minimize any potential traffic problems.

“We have revised our plan to accommodate some of the concerns of the immediate neighbors, including the addition of a brick fence on the southern property line and a crash gate on Pete Mitchell Road, which would restrict thru traffic,” Jarratt said. “The project continues to have tremendous support from the community, and we look forward to the Jan. 7 Planning Commission meeting.”

The proposed store would be on the southeast corner of the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Pete Mitchell Road, on the eastern edge of Germantown’s Central Business District and across Poplar from the Germantown Collection shopping center.

The site plan for the new Whole Foods, developed under Germantown’s smart growth plan, shows the store being built close to Poplar with landscaped parking areas at the intersection of Poplar and Pete Mitchell and behind the store along Pete Mitchell.

Whole Foods, founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, has been active in the Memphis area lately. In addition to the planned Germantown store, the specialty grocer is in the midst of a $3.1 million expansion of its East Memphis location. Whole Foods is relocating its current 25,000-square-foot store at 5022 Poplar into the space next door formerly occupied by Office Depot.

Germantown is preparing for a small boom in development, particularly retail.

The Shops of Saddle Creek is in store for a multimillion-dollar makeover and expansion.

Texas-based Trademark Property Co., which has operated the retail center since 2011, will expand the portion of the 148,000-square-foot lifestyle center on the southwest side of Poplar Avenue and West Street in Germantown.

Trademark will demolish 20,000 square feet of existing space before building 40,000 square feet of new development.

The project also includes remodeled building exteriors for Saddle Creek South and West with work slated to begin in late 2013 or early 2014. Trademark will also explore ways to update the façade of Saddle Creek North.

The activity around Saddle Creek fits into Germantown’s plans for mixed-use development and enhancing its western edge.

Germantown hired the Lawrence Group, a North Carolina-based town planning and architectural firm, to develop guidelines for the redevelopment of its western gateway.

The Lawrence Group plan focuses on a 58-acre tract bounded by Poplar Avenue on the north, Poplar Pike on the south, the city’s border on the west and the Nottaway subdivision on the east.

Germantown has been planning its future for years.

In 2005, Germantown adopted its “Vision 2020” plan, the smart growth redevelopment plan that promotes mixed-use development combining commercial, residential and retail space in a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.

Developer Raymond Gill is currently doing site prep work on the 10-acre property housing the historic Nelson-Kirby House.

In 2011, Gill Poplar GP, led by managing partner Gill, acquired the property east of Kirby Parkway and bounded by Poplar on the north and Poplar Pike on the south, for $2.6 million. Gill has been considering a major mixed-use development featuring office and retail space.

Atlanta-based Concordia Properties LLC has for months been in negotiations with the Arthur family to acquire its land near Saddle Creek. Concordia is known for developing neighborhood retail and mixed-use projects.

The Arthur property, at the southwest corner of Poplar and West Street behind Saddle Creek South, has been scouted for development for years. Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers, the original developer of Saddle Creek, at one point wanted to develop 37 acres of the Arthur estate south of Poplar, but that deal fell apart.

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