​Village Planning Update: Bookstore and Grocery News

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
News about the bookstore and specialty food market led the discussion at the September Village Planning update meeting hosted by Frank Gladu, Special Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor. Tasked with overseeing the plan, Gladu has identified five priority projects, with the new bookstore and mixed-use grocery-apartment building currently topping the list. The bookstore is expected to be open by the beginning of the next academic year and the mixed-use food market and apartment building has taken a leap forward with a developer interested in the project.
The contractor bid process is open on the bookstore, Gladu said. Describing the design, he explained the two sections of the bookstore would be joined in the rear. One side will sell trade books and the other side will sell “Sewanee spirit” items and gifts. A basement area will be devoted to student textbooks and course materials. The building will also offer outdoor and indoor seating courts.
The current bookstore site will become the home of a new Wellness Center for students and faculty. The center will include student health, counseling, and exercise components, as well as providing a home base for the Sewanee Outing Program, according to Gladu. The Fowler Center will continue to be the sports and fitness facility for public use.
The University hopes to break ground on the Wellness Center this fall, Gladu said. Plans are underway to move the current bookstore to a temporary location pending completion of the new bookstore. The Bishop’s Common, the former location of the bookstore, is being considered as the bookstore’s temporary home.
The mixed-use grocery and apartment building is slated for location on the lot currently occupied by the Hair Depot. The recently completed conceptual design shows the market front door facing the intersection. The 10,000 square foot ground floor might house other retail businesses in addition to a grocery, Gladu said. By comparison, the Sewanee Market convenience store is only 1,800 square feet. The mixed-use building will have apartments on the top two stories. The third floor apartments will feature balconies to give the building a more aesthetically compelling appearance. Parking will be in the rear.
“The potential developer is really on board with what we had in mind,” Gladu said, “and the architect got from the beginning what we were trying to do.”
From the outset, housing has been a key component of the Sewanee Village Plan.
To address the employee housing shortage, the University intends to make additional sites available where employees can build, Gladu said. The University may also offer financial assistance to employees who want to build, especially first time-home owners. With the exception of Parson’s Green, only employees can build on the Domain.
The Village Plan calls for as many as 100 housing units in the 45-acre business district, both apartments and developer-built single family homes. The types of single-family homes proposed include three or four home clusters, cottage court groupings of small homes facing one another, and attached homes like duplexes, triplexes, and townhouses.
“Variety is crucial to changing the housing inventory in Sewanee,” Gladu said. For Village housing, employees will have buyer’s priority throughout the sale negotiation process. In the event the price decreases in negotiation with a non-employee buyer, employees will have the option to override the non-employee’s bid.
Providing an update on other priority projects, Gladu said TDOT continued to grapple with the proposal to narrow Highway 41A to calm traffic. Design work on the Village Green was expected to begin in the near future given impetus by a donor gift earmarked for that purpose.
“There’s much perched on the horizon,” Gladu stressed. “What happens in the next year will be telling.”