Olive Garden has expressed interest in the former O’Charley site but not yet agree

January 6 — Developer Naren Patel wants this to be clear. He did not make a deal to bring an olive garden to the site he owns at 1520 W. Walnut Ave, where the O’Charley restaurant and bar once stood.

“I don’t want to start rumors that Olive Garden is coming to Dalton,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been working on for 18 years. I’d like to put something in it. I don’t like it being empty. But we don’t have anything yet.”

Correspondence between a project management company representing Darden Restaurants, owner of Olive Garden, and officials in the town of Dalton shows that the company is at least interested in the site.

“We are considering the old ‘O’Charley site’ for a future olive garden,” wrote Sandi LeBlanc, representative of LD Reeves & Associates Inc. in South Chesterfield, Virginia.

LeBlanc declined to comment.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have much to share at the moment,” said Meagan Bernstein, spokesperson for Olive Garden. “As we continue to grow, our real estate teams are constantly on the lookout for locations across the country. However, we cannot confirm any specific plan until a project has received the necessary approvals.

City administrator Andrew Parker said the property already has the general commercial zoning needed to set up a restaurant.

In 2019, Patel and his son Anish Govan, CEO of the family-owned Five Star Hospitality and Development Group, asked the town to dezone 1.7 acres the family owned at 108 Kinnier Court, which is in the Dickson subdivision. Acres. and adjacent to the O’Charley site, from commercial to residential so that they could demolish the house on the site and turn the site into a parking lot with approximately 80 spaces for a possible olive garden at the O’Charley site.

Patel said the O’Charley’s site has 80 parking spaces and Olive Garden wanted around 150 parking spaces.

The Dalton-Whitfield Planning Commission recommended not to change the zoning, citing its potential impact on the subdivision. City council tabled the motion at a meeting in December, and Patel withdrew the request before council could vote on it at its Jan.6, 2020 meeting.

Patel said the current plan is to use the commercial property he owns on Walnut Avenue adjacent to the O’Charley site for additional parking and not to enter the residential neighborhood.

“This is why the city and county (Whitfield) will be asking them (Darden) to submit a parking plan to demonstrate that the parking standards can be met in the proposed manner,” Parker said.

The parking plan will be reviewed by planning and zoning staff and the building office.

LeBlanc also requested more information on the city’s plans for the West Walnut Avenue corridor to see how that might influence Darden’s site choice.

Last week, city council imposed a 90-day moratorium on new developments in the economic development zone on the south side of West Walnut Avenue from I-75 to Dug Gap Road.

In December 2020, council members voted to create a Tax Allocation District (TAD) in this region that will provide tax incentives for developers to build or renovate properties in the area.

The city is planning a road that will connect Market Street to Dug Gap Road, which council members say should ease congestion on West Walnut Avenue and increase access to shops and restaurants on Market Street. The city is also planning to convert Market Street to a “streetscape” style, including wider sidewalks, on-street parking, and decorative benches and lighting, and relocating power, telephone and cable lines underground. The plan also calls for a similar streetscape on this stretch of West Walnut Avenue.

In October last year, Council members approved a contract with Goodwyn Mills Cawood of Atlanta to design the road that will link Market Street to Dug Gap Road.

Dalton City Communications Director Bruce Frazier said on Wednesday the city had not received a response to its request for “detailed information on their parking plans. We are still awaiting their response to determine what is happening. they think in terms of parking across the various plots they own will be permitted under the unified zoning plan. ”

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