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‘Ingles on the Hill’ poised for $7.5 million construction project

fr inglesbuildA major expansion and renovation of the Ingles grocery store on Russ Avenue in Waynesville is finally imminent.

Ingles estimated the total project will cost $7.5 million — including a new grocery store, new gas station, parking lot makeover and new strip of retail store fronts — according to its town building permit.

Ingles first began talking about plans to redo its store on Russ Avenue in Waynesville five years ago. It has revised its plans on file with the town development office three times since then, shuffling around the pieces of what would go where on the overall site and how big the store itself would be.

It has now settled on a final version and secured its building permit. The permit is good for only a year. Given the steep cost of the permit — it was $25,000, based on the size and scope of the project — it’s safe to assume Ingles will break ground within that year’s window.

Jason Rogers, the town’s building inspector, took time this week to give an armchair tour of Ingles’ blueprints, pointing out key features of the plans.

The plan is packed with aesthetic perks. The building façade will sport stacked stone along the bottom, cornices along the top and brick column accents.

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“It will be a beautiful building. They filled this thing with windows,” Rogers said. “The even nicer part of it is the parking lot improvements.”

The sprawling treeless asphalt will get a design makeover with dozens of trees and other plantings, along with interior pedestrian crosswalks and walkways — per requirements of the town’s land-use plan.

Even the gas station will be attractive, as far as gas stations go. It will feature a decorative façade with brick bases and columns around the pumps themselves.

The Waynesville Ingles is akin to a town commons where strolling the aisles can feel more like a meet-and-greet social hour than a grocery run. Construction will undoubtedly put a crimp in shoppers’ style — particularly those that have the store layout memorized — but a two-phase building strategy should minimize disruptions, Rogers said.

First, the old Goody’s storefront to the right of the existing Ingles will be demolished and rebuilt. The grocery store will move into the new space while the old store is demolished and rebuilt. The two sides will then be joined.

The new store will be a third larger, going from 60,000 to 90,000 square feet, Rogers said. In addition to more grocery space overall, it will have a pharmacy, a walk-in beer cooler and a health products section. The variety of niche foods will increase with the extra space, such as a lobster tank and specialty frozen food lines. 

The biggest addition will be the prepared foods arena. Along with a larger deli, bakery, hot bar and salad bar, there will be ample café seating, according to blueprints on file with the town development office.

The grocery store will be centered in the large building strip, rather than offset to the left as it is now. There will a handful of smaller retail storefronts to either side of the main grocery store that will be leased out.

In addition to an all-new grocery store, plans call for an eight-pump gas station along the left side of the entrance road. 

The larger site plan also calls for a Chick-Fil-A fronting Russ Avenue across from McDonald’s and a stand-alone, yet-to-be-named restaurant on the far side of the parking lot looking back toward downtown.

While they are shown on the overall site plan, neither of those were included in the recent building permit. The restaurant and Chick-Fil-A would submit their own building design plans to the town independently at some point.

The plan also calls for a second entrance road off Russ Avenue with a stoplight, which Rogers said would help relieve the bottleneck at the lone Ingles’ intersection now. The second entrance road will go along the left side of the new Chick-Fil-A, then turn and go between Home Trust Bank and the new gas station before joining the primary entrance road. 

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