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Ellijay, GA
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Auto Zone coming to East Ellijay

An Auto Zone store will start going up next to the Chick-fil-A on Howard Simmons Road after rock blasting and grading, seen above, are complete, the construction project’s supervisor said. (Photos by Michael Andrews)

by Michael Andrews

All necessary steps have been completed for an Auto Zone store to start going up on Howard Simmons Road.

“They are legit and they are coming. All the permits are approved and they’re under construction,” confirmed East Ellijay City Planner Mack Wood.

The new auto parts store will be built next door to the East Ellijay Chick-fil-A.

“Georgia Power has hooked them up. They set their (temp) meter about two weeks ago. They also hit some rock and have had to do some dynamite blasting,” said Wood.

Leslie Hunter, a supervisor for CBI General Contractors, said the original completion date for construction of the store was June 2015, but the rock blasting could move it back to July or August.       

 “We’ve been delayed for six weeks already,” said Hunter.

That will still be relatively quick turnaround for construction of a new business.

“Their date of application was 2-23-15. They wanted to have everything done before they closed on (the property),” Wood added.

After grading and rock removal are done, the actual building will start going up, Hunter said.

An opening date has yet to be scheduled.

“We’ll probably be getting that further down the line. It would be a little premature to ask them for that right now,” Hunter added.
Renewed retail interest?

Auto Zone will be the first retail business to be built in the shadow of the Highlands shopping area of East Ellijay since 2012, when a combination Valero convenience store and Dunkin’ Donuts went up just down the street from the 1.3-acre store lot.

“CVS moved in and then Chick-fil-A. Valero and Dunkin’ Donuts was the last one over,” said Wood. “The medical offices on the hill (behind Walmart) are not open yet, but they’re in the process of doing the interior right now.”          

With direct access to Highway 515, the commercial area of “East Town” experienced a boom period in the early 2000s as a destination for chain and franchise businesses. New construction slowed as the economy worsened and banks tightened lending restrictions.

Wood is hopeful the improving economy, as well as the prospect of a water park and convention center scheduled to be built just south of the Gilmer/Pickens line, will help make more businesses interested in coming to East Ellijay.

“I think a lot of (potential new business) is going to depend on that water park,” confirmed Wood. “The banks have a lot to do with it, too, because they’re starting to loan money now. When you have as many (banks) go under as we did here, it takes a long time for the dominoes to come back the other way.”
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