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Ask 13: Grocery store plans fuel Publix rumors

A developer has submitted plans for a 50,000 square foot store off Russ Ave. near the Sagebrush Steakhouse, fueling the rumors that Publix wants to build in Waynesville. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

It appears a new grocery store could be coming to Waynesville.

News 13 first got wind of Publix wanting to build off Russ Avenue near the Sagebrush Steakhouse back in April. At that time, News 13 contacted Kim Reynolds, communications manager for Publix, who said there were no confirmed sites in Waynesville. She did say Publix is always looking to expand.

Related article| Ask 13: Is Publix shopping for a location in Waynesville?

Fast forward a month later.

Now, a developer has submitted plans for an approximately 50,000 square foot building that includes a drive-through pharmacy, retail space and 240+ parking spaces. The plans also include a separate 7,000 square foot retail building.

According to documents submitted by the developer, it would all be built on properties surrounding Sagebrush, including the Lodge Hotel and other buildings behind it and Sagebrush.

News 13 spoke with Elizabeth Teague, the Development Services Director for the town of Waynesville. She said town leaders have also heard the rumors that it's a Publix as well.

"We've certainly heard all of the rumors, but officially we have not been told who the future tenants of these buildings will be," Teague said.

Teague did say that it would be a very challenging site for redevelopment.

"It's got some very steep topographical issues," she said. "You have the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway on one side, you have Russ Avenue, which is about to be improved by the NCDOT and that construction is scheduled for 2022. Then you have an existing piece of property on the corner spot which is not a part of the development, the parking area and Sagebrush Restaurant will stay. So this development around that is actually adjacent on one side to Frazier Street, which serves a residential area."

She also said it will involve a good deal of grading improvements, and the town will look for drainage and storm water improvements as well.

A public hearing on the conditional district rezoning application from the developer is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Town Hall Board Room at 9 South Main Street in Waynesville. Teague said she expects a good turnout, given the interest in the potential property.

Following the public hearing, the planning board will make recommendations to the Board of Alderman. Then, the Board of Alderman will ultimately decide whether to approve the project.

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