Today is Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Starbucks eyes north MJ location

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MT. JULIET -- City residents, commuters to Nashville, and other passers-through may soon be able to order lattes, hazelnut macchiatos, grande or venti coffees, or even a blueberry scone from a new Starbucks on Lebanon Road, if plans come to fruition to build a location of the internationally-franchised coffee chain on Mt. Juliet’s north side.

Dewey Lineberry, who owns the old Dollar General property on Lebanon Road, said Monday that the Seattle-based Starbucks chain has given him a letter of intent to locate a new store on his property.

“Of course, a letter of intent is like getting engaged before we get married,” Lineberry quipped. “Now we have to see if we like each other.”

The Starbucks would be the chain’s second location in Mt. Juliet, since it already has one location at Target in Providence MarketPlace. The decision to open a Starbucks on Lebanon Road will be up to a committee from the company to make, Lineberry said, and no timetable has been set.

However, he feels optimistic that the answer will be “yes,” he added.

“If you’re in the real estate business, you have to be patient,” noted Lineberry, the president of Lineberry Properties, which has its headquarters a short distance further west on Lebanon Road from the possible Starbucks site.

The old Dollar General property, in front of Publix just west of Lebanon Road’s intersection with North Mt. Juliet Road, was seriously damaged by a freak EF-2 winter tornado on Jan. 30, 2013, requiring the building’s demolition.

But like a phoenix rising from its ashes, the property could experience a new commercial life as Starbucks that also might serve as a cornerstone for revitalization and expansion efforts of the city’s north side, District 1 City Commissioner Ray Justice said.

Like Lineberry, Justice is feeling pretty positive about the potential Starbucks, too.

“It’s another piece of the puzzle,” he said. “It’s as if whenever something bad happens, there’s a good opportunity. We had the tornado in January, and we had to endure that. Now this will be bigger, better and prettier. That’s what we want.”

Lineberry said he thinks the state’s latest traffic counts may have figured into the Starbucks offer, too. “Starbucks did their homework and decided they needed to be where there’s a higher traffic count,” he said.

According to the 2013 figures of the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), Lebanon Road has 27,147 cars per day passing in front of the possible Starbucks site – and North Mt. Juliet Road, which is directly across the highway from the site, has a daily count of 21,638 per day.

That compares favorably with the 18,633 cars per day which passed in front of Providence MarketPlace on South Mt. Juliet Road in TDOT’s 2013 traffic count.

Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty also is pleased with the news. “It’s something we’ve been seeking for some time,” he said. “I like Starbucks coffee, and I think they will be very, very successful at that location.”

However, contacted Monday in Seattle, a Starbucks spokeswoman said she could not comment on the possible Lebanon Road Starbucks, stating only that Starbucks “remains committed to serving our customers from our existing Starbucks locations.”

Starbucks, which operates in more than 12,000 locations worldwide, also has locations on Lebanon Road and Old Hickory Boulevard in Hermitage.

In Lebanon, Starbucks has a store at 604 South Cumberland Street. The company also announced plans in February 2013 to lease 668,000 square feet of warehouse space in Park 840 to open a regional distribution center that was expected to create 100 to 150 new jobs.

The new center was intended as an expansion of Starbucks’ distribution activities in Middle Tennessee, where it also maintains more than 600,000 square feet of warehouse space in LaVergne.

So a Lebanon Road location in Mt. Juliet for Starbucks, which has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for eight years in a row now, may be the next feather in Mt. Juliet’s cap. The city has been winning recognition regularly lately, and so has the iconic coffee chain, so the two should be a winning combination.

Correspondent Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@yahoo.com.

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