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Markets at Choto development underway

The Markets at Choto is well on its way.

According to developer John Huber, grading on the commercial site — which includes a Weigel’s gas station — should be underway within the next 30 days.

“All we’re waiting on is the grading permit from Knox County,” Huber said

The grading permit also will include rather drastic changes to the Northshore Drive/Choto Road intersection.

“Essentially, we are going to cut Northshore Drive down where that blind hill is coming into the intersection,” Huber said. The blind hill will be graded out and Northshore Drive widened to three lanes at the intersection with Choto.

“This was a good opportunity to create a better situation for the community through a public-private partnership,” Huber said.

“It’s going to be a massive improvement, safety-wise, out there,” he added.

In addition to a Weigel’s, the site will include other retail buildings and perhaps office space.

Huber hopes to house a restaurant or two, a salon, dry cleaner and local pharmacy. He said he was in talks with a “reputable local restaurant operator” and a local pharmacy.

“People have a tendency to think it’s going to be a Walgreens or something, which it’s not,” Huber said.

Huber said he hopes the corner will become a community hub, and said he’s proud of how the site will be developed with certain aesthetic restrictions to fit in with neighboring subdivisions.

“I’m trying to create a neighborhood center,” he said.

The buildings will be designed with a “residential flair,” Huber said, “to blend in with to the area rather than coming in and dropping a 20,000 square-foot building ... or a basic strip center.”

Huber said he’d received a lot of positive feedback on the design of the center, which sets Weigel’s near a natural tree buffer, protects a stream and puts the residential-style buildings near the road, with parking in the back.

“We’re trying to be a good neighbor and work with the community,” Huber said.

In addition, Huber said he wanted to emphasize the development’s sustainable elements, including a retention pond and preserved green space on the 15-acre lot.

Huber said he hopes to recycle the water from the retention pond and use it as irrigation.

“We can be good for the environment and good for the neighborhoods. It will be fewer, shorter car trips for people in the area,” Huber said.

The first phase will be about six to seven acres, but the rear of the property will be largely preserved as green space and will include the retention pond, and possibly walking trails.

“I’ve been working with Parks and Recreation trying to work in some walking trails ... and that’s going well,” Huber said.

Huber held a meeting on-site with area brokers Wednesday, Sept. 1, and still is seeking commercial or office space tenants.

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