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Hobby Lobby in, Chipotle still mum on retail location
Work continues at Dawsonville Highway development
0312develop
Signage announces North Lake Square along Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, the fast-food chain serving made-to-order burritos and tacos, has plans to open a location on Dawsonville Highway near Ahaluna Drive in Gainesville.

Or does it?

A sign at the development site has the restaurant’s logo listed as one of the brands coming to the location, and Chipotle is listed on site plans submitted last week to city planning officials.

But when it comes to commercial development, a funny thing often happens on the way from breaking ground to opening the doors.

Namely, corporate tenants like to stay silent on their intentions.

Site plans call for Chipotle to occupy a 2,450-square-foot building. Three additional shops, each 1,400 square feet, will adjoin the restaurant.

“Keep in mind, this has yet to be reviewed, and no permits have been issued,” said Rusty Ligon, director of Gainesville’s Community Development Department. “Also, note that Chipotle would be just one of the tenants in this building.”

Chipotle spokeswoman Danielle Winslow told The Times the company doesn’t talk about openings until a lease is signed and construction scheduled.

“Right now, I am not showing anything for this location ...” she said. “Feel free to check back in several weeks for an update.”

This is common practice, though no less upsetting to some residents.

For example, when a Tennessee-based developer proposed demolishing the Lanier Plaza shopping center on Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville last year, it was a little-kept-secret that Wal-Mart would be opening a grocery store there.

But the developer repeatedly declined to name the retail giant as the tenant, even as local residents protested the redevelopment based on this very knowledge.

Of course, it’s only a matter of time before Chipotle makes a formal announcement.

Construction continues at the site, after all.

Private company Hobby Lobby, however, whose logo is also displayed at the site, has confirmed its intention to open a location there in the first quarter of 2016. The store, which offers a variety of home goods and arts and craft supplies, will be 55,000 square feet and employ 30-50 people.

“We feel that we can bring a very unique shopping experience to the area,” said Vince Parker, spokesman with Hobby Lobby. “We are looking forward to becoming part of the community.”

Those two outparcels complement an Academy Sports + Outdoors location, the first in Hall County, which will serve as anchor store for the development along Dawsonville Highway.

The $4 billion sports retailer will occupy 62,000 square feet.

The retail shopping center will have primary access from Dawsonville Highway across from the Olive Garden and Cheddar’s restaurants, and a traffic signal has been approved for that location. Another right-in/right-out only driveway is located across from Beechwood Boulevard.

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