The Planning Commission on Monday approved the rezoning of a three-acre tract at Highway 153 and Shepherd Road that officials of the Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Company said is part of 40 acres under consideration for a new distribution center.
Officials said that is the "preferred location," but that several additional steps are necessary before the site can become a reality.
The site includes the former Olan Mills offices and plant as well as the Dillard property.
The need for expansion came after it was announced last April that the Chattanooga facility would have a wider distribution area.
Officials said since then they have been looking at several sites, including the current headquarters on Amnicola Highway and locations in North Georgia and elsewhere.
Former Judge Walter Williams, representing the Shepherd community, said several meetings have been held with residents. He said it can be a "win-win" for the company and the residents.
He said the residents are interested in getting sidewalks as well as alleviation of flooding problems.
Judge Williams said TDOT has agreed to spend $3.7 million to widen the Shepherd Road bridge over Highway 153. He said that project is to be let on Oct. 17 and take 18-24 months to complete. The bridge will include three lanes as well as a sidewalk, he said.
He said Shepherd residents, however, do not want to see any further intrusion into the residential section.
Charles Wood, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Commerce, said Coca-Cola Bottling does not have to keep its regional headquarters here, and he said it is a competitive situation to keep it.
But he indicated that Coca-Cola is working to be able to remain here, though "it is a very complicated process."
Chattanooga is the home of the first franchised bottling of Coca-Cola in 1899.
The headquarters was at Second and Broad prior to moving to Amnicola Highway.