Ingles expansion in works; MBA reports on new businesses in Marion

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The Marion City Hall now has a set of site plans for the new Ingles and other planned improvements for the shopping center at 625 W. Henderson St. Since the closing of the Rite-Aid store, many local people have wondered what the supermarket chain has in mind for that property, which is owned by Ingles.

The city of Marion has received the site plans for the new and upgraded Ingles store on West Henderson Street and there might be more in the works for that shopping center than just a larger supermarket.

The Marion City Hall now has a set of site plans for the new Ingles and other planned improvements for the shopping center at 625 W. Henderson St. Since the closing of the Rite-Aid store, many local people have wondered what the supermarket chain has in mind for that property, which is owned by Ingles.

City Manager Bob Boyette said what the city has from Ingles is a very preliminary conceptual site plan that is subject to change. These are not construction plans. But it gives some insight into the future for the Ingles store and the other retail spaces next to it.

The site plan calls for a 71,740-square-foot Ingles store. City officials said this would be roughly a 20,000-square-foot expansion from the existing store. The expansion would occur towards the rear of the property rather than on both sides.

“The size of the Ingles will be similar to Black Mountain’s,” said City Planning Director Heather Cotton.

However, there is no indication in the plan as to whether the expanded Ingles would have a pharmacy, a movie rental section or a Starbucks. Heather Cotton said the new supermarket for Marion could have all of those but no one knows yet.

Boyette said the existing store would likely remain open as the new section is under construction.

Heather Cotton said the façade of the building would be like the ones Ingles has built in Buncombe County during the last two years.

The site plan from Ingles covers the entire shopping center and not just the supermarket. It includes a gas station, which has become almost standard for the Ingles chain. A separate plan for the gas station has been submitted too.

“It seems like the gas station is the first priority,” said Heather Cotton.

In addition, the preliminary site plan includes a 22,000-square-foot fitness center on one end of the Ingles store. At the other end of the supermarket, the plan has four retail shop spaces, each one measuring 20 by 70 feet. These would be located where Rite Aid and Moore’s once existed. At the other end of the shopping center, the plan calls for an 8,000-square-foot retail store section. This is where the Hallmark store used to operate.

The plans submitted give no indication as to what will actually go into those spaces. There’s no information about when construction will start or be completed. A lot of other work is planned for the property including the building of a large retaining wall in the back part. That wall may have to be built before the Ingles can expand, said Heather Cotton.

Furthermore, the site plan for the shopping center includes the Burger King, which means that fast-food eatery won’t have to relocate, city officials said.

This is just one of the new developments in the works for Marion. At this moment, a second craft brewery, a meadery, a bar and retro arcade, a downtown ice cream shop, a downtown movie theater and an Arby’s are all under construction for Marion. The Dunkin’ Donuts, Harbor Freight Tools and Petsense are still in the works.

On Tuesday, the Marion City Council received the quarterly report from the Marion Business Association. President Tracy Cotton reported three new businesses opened in Marion from January to March. They are Earth & Soul Studio, Spruced Boutique and Black Bear General Store.

During that same period, ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held for Spillway Bridge & Co., Mica Town Brewing, Mountain Lake Realty, Southeast Fitness, Talent Force, Rocket Sled Marketing, Larry D. Miller Business Complex, Mission Hospital McDowell, Aria Rose Clothing, M&D Paranormal, Spruced Boutique, Hook & Anchor (35th anniversary) and Tri-City Pets.

Only two businesses closed during that time: Rue21 and Dazzling Divas.

Several businesses changed locations or acquired a new owner. Talent Force and Rocket Sled Marketing moved to the Miller Complex, Café Marion became McDowell Local and Weight Watchers moved to the Presbyterian Church. Pinkerton Realty moved to South Main Street and Southeast Fitness came under new ownership.

Tracy Cotton said Tuesday ground has been broken for the new Holiday Inn Express and construction should begin soon. A major commercial development is planned for Sugar Hill Road and it would include an auto dealership along with the Arby’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.

The new hospital was rebranded as Mission Hospital McDowell. Mission Health is in discussions to be acquired by HCA Healthcare. Once the sale goes through, the hospital will pay property and sales taxes and a foundation will be established to invest tens of millions of dollars per year to improve health in Mission's current 18-county area. “Tremendous financial benefits for the community,” said Tracy Cotton.

She added there is a strong interest from an Italian restaurant based in Tennessee to take over the old 67 Pizza location.

In addition, Marion Comic Con kicked off the Municipal Events Center and it drew more than 1,300 spectators and dealers. Downtown businesses planned and organized the first St. Patrick’s Day Pub and Grub Crawl and it was very successful. The 2018 calendar continues to add more events, which require the closing of streets. There are holiday block parties, free depot music, shows and plays at MACA and Saturday jams at Killough’s.

The Small Business Expo took place Monday, May 21 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the MEC.

“We’re just so excited to see these downtown businesses, MACA, taprooms, breweries, restaurants coming together to make the event calendar so full,” said Tracy Cotton to the City Council.

“In nine years, that’s the happiest report I’ve heard,” said Councilwoman Juanita Doggett.

“Things are looking up for Marion,” said Mayor Pro Tem Billy Martin.

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