If you “love that chicken from Popeyes,” rejoice — a retail location is scheduled to open in Athens by March 2018.
The Athens Popeyes will be built on the north side of U.S. 72 at the intersection of Houston Street. The property was the former home of the Limestone Baptist Association.
Developer William Ming of Ming Enterprises said the building would be demolished and the lot reconfigured. He anticipated construction to begin within the next two weeks.
The franchise will be owned and operated by Bryan and Wendy Land. The couple had previously looked at opening a store on U.S. 72 between the Super 8 Express motel and Car Wash Express 2, but the cost to develop the property ran higher than the Popeyes corporate office was satisfied with. The Lands announced in January the project was postponed but added they were still looking to open a store in Athens.
“I'm real happy this worked out for the Land family,” Ming said Friday. “After the property by the interstate fell through, I started working with them to find a site. They liked this site because it's centrally located and they're close to downtown, so they'll have the lunch crowd. There's also a very high traffic count.”
Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said he was excited to have Popeyes in Athens. It will join a number of other restaurants that specialize in chicken, including KFC, Zaxby's, Chick-fil-A, Bojangles' Famous Chicken and Biscuits, Buffalo Wild Wings and Rooster's.
“I'm excited about (Popeyes) and I think it's a great opportunity for our citizens,” Marks said. “I've had a lot of people ask me about it.”
The project will require changes to Houston Street because those who exit Popeyes will be forced to exit onto Houston. Drivers can then turn left or right from Houston back to U.S. 72.
Athens Public Works Director James Rich said Houston will be widened to 25 feet just behind the northern property line of Popeyes and curb and gutter will be installed. The cost for the improvements will be split between the city and the franchisees.
Ming Enterprises also announced other projects for the U.S. 72 corridor, including the construction of a new 3,300-square-foot Athens Eye Care Center. Dr. Leanne Whitaker purchased the 1-acre lot on the south side of U.S. 72, adjacent to Hertz. She plans to relocate her offices there next October.
In addition to the Whitaker project, Ming said there are three 1-acre lots available, all of which would have turn-lane access from U.S. 72.
Farther east, work is continuing on a Chevron convenience store just west of the intersection of Mooresville Road.
In the spring, work should begin on Peyton Ridge, a 56-unit apartment complex for seniors. It will be on the north side of U.S. 72, next to Classic Signs.