Work is about to get underway on the long-awaited South Broad Street Publix grocery.
The project was kept on hold by a long community discussion, then the city Board of Appeals initially voted it down by a narrow margin. It was later resubmitted to the appeals board and approved. Another long delay ensued.
Debate centered on whether the grocery should be built in traditional grocery store style with the parking in front or have more of an urban layout, including buildings close to the street and parking shielded.
For many months the identity of the grocery was not made public, though Mike Price of the development group acknowledged it was "the worst kept secret in the city."
There is no longer any doubt. A newly erected sign proclaims: Coming Soon. Publix. Where Shopping is a Pleasure."
The project was announced after the landmark Mt. Vernon Restaurant closed its doors. It will soon be torn down, along with a nearby former Pizza Hut and a smaller building that was variously used for art supplies and for music lessons.
The new Publix will be next to the southern extension of the Riverwalk that also leads across the nearby highway toward downtown St. Emo.
It will aim to serve the nearby communities of Alton Park, St. Elmo and Lookout Valley along with Lookout Mountain.
The only nearby grocery is Food City on a hill above St. Elmo's business district. It was formerly Winn Dixie and later BiLO.