Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A has proposed building a new restaurant on the fringe of Belle Meade at the southeast corner of Harding Road and Woodlawn Drive.
Chick-fil-A’s plan calls for the demolition of a former Regions bank building that sits across from Saint Thomas Hospital to clear the way for a new street-level structure that would include 28 outdoors seats, two drive-thru windows, parking placed in the rear and accommodations for walk-ups. For now, there are no plans for indoor seating, though that’s still subject to change.
To become a reality, the Metro Planning Commission must grant the popular chicken restaurant a variance from the city’s urban design overlay. Chick-fil-A still hasn’t presented an official zoning variance request.
“The UDO has expressed language that says a restaurant can have no drive-thrus on corner lots,” said Metro Councilman Jason Holleman, who represents the area. “This would obviously have a drive-thru on a corner lot.”
Holleman said Chick-fil-A has offered making some accommodations in exchange for the UDO variance, including the elimination of one access point along Woodlawn and the construction of a sidewalk beyond its own property up to The Ensworth School. He also said the restaurant plans to plant a canopy of trees to shield the street’s view from the drive-thru.
Getra Thomason, development manager of Chick-fil-A, did not respond to a voicemail The City Paper left Tuesday.
Neighbors met at The Ensworth School Wednesday night to discuss the proposal. Some say the new Chick-fil-A could bring additional traffic to an already congested part of town and oppose the idea of a drive-thru.
James Bristol, president of the Woodlawn Area Neighborhood Association, said he’s remaining neutral about the proposal, but his neighbors are fairly split. He said he’s received more than 100 emails about the subject over the past few weeks.
“We’ve had a wide response to it,” Bristol said.
“My impression is that the people who live the closest to the store are probably most against it,” he said. “They’re really against the drive-thru. That seems to be the sentiment.
“But, I would say other than that, more people favor Chick-fil-A,” he said. “They like the product, they like the company and they would like to see it.”
Chick-fil-A is already planning opening a new restaurant on Charlotte Pike near the Nashville West retail center.