By Abigail Warren, Daily Memphian
Kroger withdrew a request to add gas pumps at its Germantown store due to significant traffic concerns but may return at a later date.
The decision came after a number of concerns arose during Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting. Similar concerns were expressed in the commission’s October subcommittee meeting. Commissioners were unsure of adding fuel service to Germantown Crossing’s already packed parking lot near Germantown Road and Farmington Boulevard.
“I can’t make a qualified decision without more information on how you’re going to handle (traffic),” Commissioner Keith Saunders said after naming specific accidents that happened in the area.
Saunders, whose family works for Germantown Fire Department, noted emergency calls for the suburb’s medical district come out of Fire Station 3, right across Farmington Boulevard.
“Safety is a priority for us,” Chairman Mike Harless said. “It gets a lot of consideration.”
Ethan Skaggs, the city engineer, said the proposed plan showed increasing traffic concerns to an already congested area.
“A more substantial and in-depth study should be performed for impacts to the transportation network,” he said.
Five residents expressed concerns before Kroger ultimately decided to withdraw. Two letters opposing the project were sent to the commission prior to the meeting.
James Murphree, who lives east of Kroger, noted additional traffic is already headed to Farmington as Glasgow will add 366 homes to the former Germantown Country Club site.
“The only benefit is going to be to Kroger — not to the residents of this community,” Murphree said.
Kroger has wanted the gas station for years. The company began but never finished the city’s review process in 2015. At that time, 14 pumps were proposed on the Farmington property, but there were concerns that Kroger could not afford to lose the estimated 25 parking spaces the new gas pumps would occupy.
Kroger instead purchased the All In One station, adding its fuel service to the grocery store on Poplar Avenue near Kirby Parkway. Although there are fewer pumps, Kroger officials at that time said the location was better.
In 2021, AutoZone left Germantown Collection. In the October subcommittee meeting, Kroger officials said they’ve long desired to demolish the building on the north side of the retail center. However, commissioners noted they could demolish the existing building just to add parking to the shopping center.
Tuesday’s request was simply to add the use of fuel pumps, which was previously prohibited in the shopping centers based on a 1975 approval. Although concept plans were given to commissioners, they were not part of the consideration.
Assistant City Attorney Josh Whitehead noted the shopping center was approved before the city’s planned development guidelines were adopted.
The Planning Commission also reviewed the final phase of TraVure, the mixed-use development on the eastern edge of Germantown’s Western Gateway. Commissioners favored Gill Properties’ request for a 56,136-square-foot building on 2.05 acres. The three-story building on the northwest side of the site will include 35,518 square feet of office and about 18,000 square feet of retail. The remainder will be common space.
Landscaping to the west will help separate the project from Westminster Townhomes. Renovations are underway inside the existing units at Westminster Townhomes. Mayor Mike Palazzolo asked staff to encourage Westminster to have a robust landscaping plan.
Renderings show large glass windows, similar to those already in the main office building.
TraVure’s existing office building is 95% leased, but there are a number of possible tenants of the new building. Tuesday’s approval allows more serious conversations with prospective tenants to begin, according to Patty Bullock, senior vice president of Gill Properties. TraVure still needs a development contract from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen before beginning construction.
TraVure was one of the first projects brought forward under the city’s Smart Growth Plan, and commissioners were excited to see the final piece move forward.
“Without sounding too paternal — Brown, very proud of you,” Palazzolo said to the vice-president of Gill Properties.
Alderman Jon McCreery said high standards set by TraVure allow the city to “raise the bar” on mixed-use projects brought forward in the future.
“I’m sure it will be a great jewel for the city of Germantown in our Western Gateway.” Saunders said.