CU eyes Publix, LongHorn proposals
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Sep 28, 2012 | 5203 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bradley County’s emergence from a 5-year-old U.S. and global recession appears to be strengthening based on a handful of corporate names and construction numbers that surfaced during Thursday’s formal monthly session of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities.

Although some of the businesses have been rumored to be coming to Cleveland for years, their names until now had not been used in formal government settings.

During his monthly update to the full five-member board, Cleveland Utilities Electric Division Vice President Bart Borden reported utility engineers have begun work with a contractor representing Publix grocery store and a developer of LongHorn Steakhouse.

Neither the contractor nor developer was identified.

Additionally, Electric Division engineers are working with a McDonald’s franchise owner who has proposed the construction of a new fast-food restaurant in the Pilot Travel Center at Interstate 75’s Exit 20. CU electric engineers also are reviewing site plans for an unidentified restaurant at the Spring Creek development along APD-40/25th Street, as well as considering preliminary plats and site plans for a variety of residential developments in Cleveland.

“Engineering is working with the contractor representing Publix grocery store,” Borden’s report to CU board members cited. “The new store will be constructed in Mouse Creek Crossing. The customer is requesting a loop feed, which is possible by tapping primary lines on Valley Head Road and Mouse Creek Road.”

Borden added, “The customer will be responsible for the associated cost of the additional feed and has not submitted a load report to date.” By “load,” Borden’s report refers to electrical capacity needs for the development.

Of the steakhouse development, the Electric Division leader pointed out, “Engineering is working with the developer of a new LongHorn Steakhouse to be located on Holiday Inn Express Way off Paul Huff Parkway to determine the design of the electrical service and the contractor’s responsibilities. The developer has not furnished any load information at this point.”

When Cleveland Utilities is contacted by developers or contractors representing potential new businesses or future construction, it is not a firm commitment of plans by companies. Rather, it is informational protocol used to determine mutual needs by the builder or developer and the utility in order to accommodate possible new construction.

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, the city’s longest tenured administrator who also holds a seat on the Cleveland Utilities board, told the Cleveland Daily Banner in response to questioning following Thursday’s meeting that he cannot comment on either proposed development.

Asked specifically about Publix, because the giant grocer’s name has been rumored in Cleveland for years, Rowland offered, “I cannot comment.” He declined to confirm or deny any potential timetable for development if the unofficial proposal is pursued by the company.

Brenda Reid, media and community relations manager for a Publix regional office in Marietta, Ga. whose service territory includes Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee, responded by email this morning to a Banner inquiry.

“Publix does not comment on sites until we have a signed lease, and at this time, we do not have a signed lease for a store in Cleveland, Tennessee,” Reid responded.

Efforts to contact media relations representatives from LongHorn Steakhouse were unsuccessful.

Publix is an American supermarket chain based in Lakeland, Fla. Founded in 1930 by George W. Jenkins, it has operations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Proposed plans for a Publix supermarket are also currently being discussed for the North Shore community of Chattanooga.

LongHorn Steakhouse is an American casual dining restaurant chain owned and operated by Darden Restaurants Inc., and headquartered in Orlando, Fla. As of May 2011, LongHorn Steakhouse operated 354 restaurants in 33 states. The company was founded in 1981 by George McKerrow Jr. Darden Restaurants is the parent company for another popular Cleveland restaurant, Olive Garden.

Commercial development prospects were only part of Borden’s report Thursday. He outlined a series of proposed residential developments for which CU electric engineers are reviewing preliminary plats or site plans. As he did with business developments, Barden cautioned that at this stage the residential developments are proposals only and that no physical ground work is taking place.

Plats reviewed by CU electric engineers in August included:

- Taylor Village on 13th Street, a preliminary plat listing four lots and 14 units;

- Brookstone Townhomes on Chelsea Drive, a final plat listing one lot with four units;

- Carriage Lane Townhomes on Hickory Drive, a final plat;

- Mouse Creek Crossing on Paul Huff Parkway, a final plat;

- Weeks Horizon Townhomes on Weeks Drive, a preliminary plat listing eight lots and 32 units;

- Enclave on Weeks Drive, a preliminary plat on 47 lots; and

- Stonebriar Lot 30, a preliminary plat listing one lot and four units.

Site plans reviewed in August by CU electric engineers included Mouse Creek Road condos, 16 units across from Mapleton Drive; Mouse Creek Crossing, two lots; and the unnamed restaurant in the Spring Creek development.

Borden told board members “... we are very excited about [the number of] plats.” He said the amount of development taking place in Cleveland, or at least the number of proposals being reviewed, are indicators that “... things are picking up.”