Shopping center

Developer eyes Save-A-Lot mall for multi-level townhouse project

“Close Out Sale,” announced the large portable sign displayed alongside.

Smaller signs, inside Save-A-Lot – the grocery store that anchors commercial ownership – were even more explicit.

“SHOP CLOSING,” one said. “Everything is on sale, up to 50% off. Shelves and all.

The employees, questioned about what is happening, were reassuring. The store is closing so it can be renovated, they said. It will reopen in a few months, they added.

At Red Bank Town Hall, however, another story emerged.

Red Bank city officials announced that January 26 The special meeting of the Municipal Planning Commission has been cancelled. A new rezoning proposal for 2101-2119 Dayton Boulevard has been submitted and will be heard at the regular Planning Commission meeting in February.

If approved, the rezoning would pave the way for a potential buyer to demolish the parking lot and strip of commercial buildings at the rear of the property and replace them with 38 multi-story townhouses.

Additionally, the 26,165 square foot Save-A-Lot building would be converted from a grocery store to an office building.

Opponents of the proposal and the way it has been handled have been vocal.

“This is not a done deal,” Davis Guedron reminded fellow Red Bank residents on Facebook, “and will not happen without a lot of our input. . . The Mayor and Deputy Mayor toured the neighborhoods behind the proposed development to ensure residents and occupiers were aware of the desired zoning change and the proposed developments to follow. They were there to ensure that the voices of those who would be most directly affected would be heard.

Throughout the city, posters were distributed inviting people to get involved.

“Do we need townhouses or (do we need a) Save-A-Lot grocery store and other small retail/restaurant type businesses in Red Bank?” we asked. “Please join us at the next planning committee meeting on January 26 at 6 p.m. at Red Bank Town Hall.”

The topic was also hotly debated on the Red Bank Grapevine Facebook site.

“Embellish Red Bank,” commented Leslie Mitts. “Don’t turn it into another lousy East Ridge.”

“We can do without townhouses and have Save-A-Lot to help the elderly in this area,” Betty Fogg Smith said indignantly. “They do a lot to help people other than selling groceries. I was told it was closing for two weeks for a total renovation!”

It’s no secret that the current owners of the property have been trying unsuccessfully to unload it for several years.

However, it proved difficult to attract suitable potential buyers who were welcome in the community.

In 2020, for example, Immunotek Biocenters submitted a proposal to purchase and transform the property into a plasma collection center.

City leaders ultimately rejected the idea, after residents complained that the proposed collection center would prey on the poor and create security and other problems in the area.

The first hint of current efforts to transform commercial property on Dayton Boulevard appeared online Dec. 6, when LoopNet.com announced that the mall — which it said has “more than 20,000 daily traffic” — was at sell for $3 million.

“The mall is ready for remodeling or redevelopment by the next owner,” according to LoopNet.com, which noted that the property had new roofs and trim, and that Save-A-Lot’s exterior had been painted in June 2021.

“The mall is located in the emerging retail corridor connecting Northshore to Hixson and backing the population of Signal Mountain,” LoopNet.com said. “ . . . . The Save-A-Lot space is 26,165 square feet with 14-foot ceilings and two loading docks. Currently occupied by a tenant who plans to move. . . The Center of the Strip has two short-term tenants, 19,200 square feet of total space. Gas heating.