Trader Joe’s has chosen a potential site for the Chattanooga store

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This story was updated on Friday November 6, 2020 at 4:33 PM with additional information.

Staff photo by Mike Pare / The former AAA Chattanooga insurance agency site on Gunbarrel Road is slated for demolition. The property has been identified as a Trader Joe’s location.

Specialty grocer Trader Joe’s confirmed on Friday that it was in the early stages of trying to set up its first store in Chattanooga.

“We are very interested in setting up a store in the area,” said Kenya Friend-Daniel, public relations manager for Trader Joe.

Construction plans filed with the City of Chattanooga show that the store could go to 2111 Gunbarrel Road, a location that once owned AAA Chattanooga Insurance Agency.

Detailed plans by Neuhoff Taylor Architects of the commercial space proposed for the Trader Joe’s benchmark site.

A demolition permit has been issued for the address, and a building permit for the site indicates the construction of retail space in a $ 1.95 million project. The permit cites the construction of a “merchant structure”.

Chattanooga developer Bassam Issa said on Friday he was not ready to make an announcement regarding a tenant for the property.

The building permit indicated that the work on the envelope of the new structure should be completed by the end of March 2021.

Friend-Daniel said that “since we are so early in the process, there is no additional information to share at this time”.

Earlier this year, she said the company was considering locating new stores in Tennessee, including Chattanooga.

The spokesperson said the Monrovia, Calif., Based company was “always looking for good locations that would be suitable for a Trader Joe store.” She said the company’s goal each year is to open 20 to 30 stores.

Trader Joe’s already has stores in Knoxville, Nashville, and Germantown, outside of Memphis, Tennessee. The company opened a second location in Nashville last year, around the same time a site debuted in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Nationally, the retailer operates more than 500 stores, which it bills as “your neighborhood grocery store.” Compared to a typical grocery store that stocks around 50,000 items, Trader Joe’s carries around 4,000 items, most of which have one of its own brand names. Trader Joe’s offers gourmet foods, organic foods, vegetarian foods, unusual frozen foods, imported foods, domestic and imported wine and beer, where local law permits.

Trader Joe’s has remained on the wish list of many Chattanoogans.

In 2017, a survey of 1,100 people by the downtown nonprofit redevelopment group River City Co. found that a Trader Joe’s Market was among the most sought after retailers in Chattanooga. Clothing retailer Urban Outfitters was the other.

In addition, a Facebook page, “Bring Trade Joe’s to Chattanooga,” received more than 6,700 likes on Friday.

“We as a community need to show Trader Joe that we want and will support a store here in Chattanooga! The Facebook page said.

Trade publication Winsight Grocery Business reported last month that Trader Joe’s was actively opening new stores despite the pandemic, citing a location in Wayne, New Jersey. Winsight said that Trader Joe’s website lists new “upcoming” stores in Coral Springs, Florida, Queen Creek, Arizona, Richmond, Virginia and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Contact Mike Pare at [email protected] or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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