The Tuscaloosa city council voted to rezone a prominent property on 15th Street Tuesday night to remove a shop some see as an eyesore and add a new drive-thru Starbucks.

As the Thread first reported in November, developers want to get rid of the T-Town Tire store at 405 15th Street and build up the new coffee shop.

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That may seem outlandish to some readers, with three other Starbucks locations less than a mile away on Veterans Memorial Parkway, University Boulevard and Paul Bryant Drive but developers said in the fall that adding another store to that area of Tuscaloosa is a high priority for Starbucks.

"In a high-density area like Tuscaloosa with the traffic volumes it has, [stores] can get closer together," developer Brice Johnston said last year. "Especially with the student dollars that are moving through Tuscaloosa, they see that as an opportunity in a high-priority area for Starbucks generally and one of their highest priorities even nationwide, believe it or not."

(Google Street View)
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On Tuesday night, surveyor Mike Hicks of Herndon, Hicks & Associates spoke on behalf of the developers to ask the city council to rezone the property from its current designation in a Special Neighborhood Commercial District (BNS) and Moderate Density Residential (R-4) and change it to Neighborhood Commercial District (BN). The old zoning would not allow for a drive-thru on the property, but BN does.

"This is supposedly going to alleviate some of the traffic backing up on Veterans Memorial Parkway to the east," Hicks said in a presentation.

The developers said last year the shop will be a 1,275-square-foot drive-thru Starbucks built new at the site next to Domino's Pizza and they aim to be open by August 2025. Hicks said it would be similar to the new Starbucks drive-thru across from the University of Alabama tennis courts on University Boulevard.

The council approved the rezoning unanimously and, without explicitly criticizing its current appearance, they signaled readiness for a new look for that part of town.

"I just want to say I'm excited," District 2 Councilwoman Raevan Howard said. "We're removing a business that, ah - we're going to have something more attractive on 15th Street."

For more on the new Starbucks as it becomes available and for other exclusive coverage of restaurant and retail development, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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