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MOUNT VERNON – For months, one of Knox County's most visible commercial properties – the one-acre plot at 989 Coshocton Ave., in front of Harbor Freight and Fiesta Mexicana – has been under renovation.
According to city records obtained by Knox Pages, this property will soon become home to the world's largest coffee chain.
Starbucks is preparing to open a stand-alone shop at the location, according to site engineering plans approved by City Safety-Service Director Richard Dzik on Sept. 15. It will have a drive-thru hooking around the front side of the building, as well as a patio and 25 nearby parking spaces.
This will technically be Mount Vernon's second Starbucks, as there is already a shop located inside Kroger, half-a-mile down the road. But it will be the city's first stand-alone location with a drive-thru, as well as additional inside seating.
It's unclear when Starbucks is expecting to open the store. The company has not responded to requests for comment, and local officials were also unsure. Northstar Realty, the Columbus-based firm representing the property (RTF Valley Plaza Realty LLC owns it; Starbucks will be its tenant), declined to comment for this story.
The last business to operate out of the property was Holiday Hair, which recently relocated to 1508 Coshocton Ave. The building had also housed a Western Union financial services branch in years past.
The property used to be part of Valley Plaza Shopping Center, which includes the six-store strip mall at 993-1005 Coshocton Ave. Northstar Realty representatives approached Mount Vernon's Municipal Planning Commission on June 11 with a proposal to split the 6.235-acre property into separate 1.002-acre and 5.233-acre lots.
The one-acre lot would contain the 2,495-square-foot building at 989 Coshocton Ave. Representatives said the property would be redeveloped and leased to a "long-term AAA credit rated tenant." The MPC unanimously granted the request.
Northstar Realty then came before the Mount Vernon Board of Zoning Appeals on June 17 to ask for a variance on the number of parking spaces on the property. Even with the shared-use agreement between the smaller and larger parcels (meaning customers could park anywhere in the shopping center and use either building), the property fell short of the city's parking-space requirement, offering 305 of the mandated 344 spaces.
Because the property owners had made an effort to increase parking following recommendations from the June 11 MPC meeting (going from 280 to 305), the BZA granted the zoning variance.
Gorjian Acquisitions, which owns Valley Plaza Shopping Center, officially transferred ownership of the split-off parcel to RTF Valley Plaza Realty LLC on Aug. 26, according to records from the Knox County auditor's office (the rest of the shopping center will remain as is). The city approved site engineering plans for the property's redevelopment in September.
In the months since, construction crews have begun to renovate the property, installing a brand-new facade and drive-thru.
According to City Development Services Manager Lacie Blankenhorn, the property will still need to gain signage approval from the city. It will also need to acquire building permits through the state Department of Commerce, and it will have to receive final site approval from Knox Public Health before opening.
There will not be any changes to Coshocton Avenue as a result of this property redevelopment, Blankenhorn said. Regular traffic patterns will be maintained.
Striping will be adjusted in the shopping center's parking lot, she noted, to establish a driving aisle running east-west across the property. Developers believe this will allow for an easier, safer connection between the drive-thru and the rest of the property.
Starbucks currently has more than 15,000 locations in the U.S. and 30,000 across the world. The closest stand-alone locations to Mount Vernon are in Sunbury and Mansfield.
The shop offers more than 30 blends of coffee, as well as a variety of hot and iced espresso beverages, refreshers and teas. It also serves baked pastries, cold and hot sandwiches, salads, salad and grain bowls, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits and fruit cups.