The long-awaited Publix at Foothills Mall, where Sears was previously in business, is moving into the next stage of development now that litigation with the mall has been resolved. The city of Maryville permitted preliminary construction in September at a value of $12 million.
Since 2020, the same year the grocery store announced plans for the Maryville location, litigation started between the owners of Foothills Mall and Publix. However, former Daily Times reporting stated that mall owners and developers CHM LLC disagreed on plans for the grocery store long before suit was filed.
Former reporting also states that the lawsuit was filed by mall owners Time Equities Inc., a New York City-based company, on the basis that the development violated decades-old land agreements. Specifically, it allegedly violated agreements that prevented the mall’s landscape to significantly alter — such as tearing the Sears portion down.
During a phone call with The Daily Times on Monday, the project lead with CHM, Jim Harrison, said complaints were resolved with the mall owners from what started as a miscommunication. Harrison said the process to amend the “blanket of agreements” that cover the entire mall is what took the lawsuit years to resolve.
He also said that as part of the development of Publix, crews will be remodeling the entrance to the mall closest to the grocery store, where the former Sears would have opened into the rest of the building.
A representative on behalf of Time Equities said in an email to The Daily Times on Monday that “all parties came to a mutual agreement and are on good terms, thus the matter has been settled.”
The representative also said Time Equities is “aware of the store’s pending arrival and looks forward to welcoming them as their neighbor.”
Real estate records show CHM Foothills 7 LLC purchased the former Sears building — an 86,200 square feet portion of the mall — in 2016 for $1.7 million. Plans for the new grocery store designed by CHM show a 48,400 square feet building with drivable space between Publix and the mall.
Harrison said the new development will be only the detached grocery store with no additional shops that retract from the mall’s business. Once mall owners understood the potential benefits of added foot traffic from the grocery store, he said everyone was agreeable and on the same page.
The timeline for development, however, is up in the air. Ongoing constraints with construction have been a challenge, but Harrison said the goal is to have Publix open in 12 months.