More development on the horizon

There are plans to build on the vacant property beside Ingles in Lenoir City.

Business and residential developments are popping up around Loudon County despite a tough 2020.

Beth Collins, Lenoir City planner, said city projects are “very steady” even though the pandemic has created uncertainty for many.

Likely the biggest development coming is beside Ingles.

“There’s going to be two additions,” Collins said. “One addition is going to have six tenant spaces in it. That could get broken up into the whole six or broken down to three depending on the tenants. Then there is another addition beside it that will be a retail tenant. We’re not at liberty at the moment to disclose who that is. As soon as we are I’m going to tell it, but they don’t have the leases signed yet.

“… There’s already a pad there. They had anticipated this growth when they redid the Ingles, so this is now we’re at that point,” she added.

Land Planning Associates submitted exterior shell plans a couple of weeks ago that are in the review process.

“For any commercial thing of substantial means to come in, it shows that your city is — first of all, they’re looking for their job market,” Collins said. “Do we have people that can work that store, that place? Do we have the shoppers that are going to sustain it? Obviously, if we have anything big like that come in, that really shows that Lenoir City is growing in a good way, that the job market is good.”

On U.S. Highway 321 beside the PureMagic Carwash will be a four-tenant retail center. For now, the only tenant announced is a Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.

“It’s a restaurant and burger, I think, ice cream-type joint,” Collins said. “That’s the only tenant that I know of for sure because we’ve got their building plans for their build out of it. Then there’s three other spaces there that could be any type of retail. As of right now we don’t have tenants.”

Collins did not know a timetable for opening the restaurant.

Loudon could also see its share of changes in the future.

“Building projects on the horizon include restaurant retail at Interstate 75 there at Exit 72, along with commercial recreation in terms of drive-in movies and an RV park,” Ty Ross, Loudon manager, said.

Ross said more information on the “restaurant retail” business will provided at the February or March meetings of the Loudon Planning Commission.

“It’s a combination of restaurant retail in terms of with what you would typically see at interstate exits,” Ross said.

A Great Escapes RV Park is slated to come near Exit 72, Ross said. More information should also come in February or March.

“They’ve submitted a preliminary plat that has been reviewed by the planning commission and they’re now working on a final plat, which they could in turn take to the building inspector for a building permit,” Ross said.

Potentially the city’s biggest addition could be a drive-in theater in Centre 75 Business Park. Gordon and Susie Whitener, of the Whitener Company in Knoxville, came before Loudon County Commission in November expressing interest to put the theater there.

Ross could not provide much information, but hoped to see plans in the first quarter of the year.

“He’s an investor,” Ross said. “He is attracted to this business model that he’s honed in on, but if a more attractive project comes up for him to lure his capital, that would be a personal decision with him. I can’t really tell him what to do.”

In November, Gordon said “in a perfect world” the theater could open late spring or early summer if a lease was approved.

Residential development Tennessee National is also in the process of being sold to a group from Middle Tennessee, Ross said.

“It’s real close to a closing date,” Ross said. “That should close this month and the new ownership as we understand it is supposed to bring with them a lot of construction experience and new investment in the Matlock Bend area. ... New commercial development on the water and new housing development within that planned community.”