Development at old gym site half full

By ED HOWELL
Posted 7/10/18

The developer of a new strip mall at the site of Solid Image Fitness said the facility is already half leased out, adding one possibility for the remaining space may be to bring in a fast casual …

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Development at old gym site half full

Posted

The developer of a new strip mall at the site of Solid Image Fitness said the facility is already half leased out, adding one possibility for the remaining space may be to bring in a fast casual restaurant.

Scott R. Hinkle of NAI Chase Commercial said Monday he and another Birmingham developer, George Elliott, Jr., of Shannon Waltchack in Birmingham, had purchased the facility about the end of last year from Shannon Waltchack, which will still lease out the space. 

"We hope to have the first tenant in and occupying space in early September," Hinkle said. 

Hinkle worked for Shannon Waltchack for five years, until three months ago, noting he is "still on good terms" with the company. NAI Chase is based in Huntsville but has a Birmingham office, to which Hinkle commutes to from Smith Lake. His wife, Robin, became the rector at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Jasper in August 2017. 

"When I came up here a year ago, the first thing that struck me was that there seemed to be a gap is fast casual food, like the healthy stuff," he said. 

The site on Airport Road went up for sale in August or September, Hinkle said. 

WatsonBruhn General Contractors worked last week to demolish a portion of the facility to prepare for the development, he said, adding they will also be the general contractor for all the construction work. The architect is Rob Walker of Birmingham. 

Hinkle talked about what the developers were envisioning for the 10,540-square-foot building, which sits on 1.39 acres at 200 Airport Road, overlooking Hobby Lobby. The property is being advertised on the Shannon Waltchack website. 

"We can divide it however we want to," he said, although for now about four tenants are expected at the site. "Originally, we had a drive-thru on each end for restaurants or whatever. The way it has evolved, we have two tenants who have committed to the property. They are taking the end closest to Airport (Road), and next to them is the other tenant. The 4,000 or 5,000 feet still available goes from halfway through the building to Hobby Lobby.

"What we would like to do for that other end, I'd like to get a restaurant up here. On the other end, we could do an outdoor seating area that I think would really be great for Jasper. I think it would be pretty cool."

Hinkle said he is targeting to some fast casual restaurants that might evoke the spirit of Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe or Nuke's Sports Grill. He said those two actual restaurants are not interested, and they are only examples. 

However, he said a couple of other tenants which are not restaurants have indicated some interest, and it is possible something besides restaurants might go in. 

"We want quality, known tenants," he said. "If some guy comes up and wants to do something that is no credit, we're not going to do that." 

The two tenants who have committed with signed leases, but who are not ready to announce just yet, will be "new to Jasper," Hinkle said, noting the other half of the space has "nice activity" in discussions. He also declined to say for now what industry the two signed companies represent. 

The website indicated U.S. Highway 78 (Highway 118), has 25,510 vehicles a day, based on a 2016 study. The Airport Road count is 12,370 vehicles per day.