Huge mixed-use plans swarm east of I-65 in Cool Springs (2023)

Already a regional business hub, Cool Springs is planned to be converted into the area near East McEwen Drive and Carothers Parkway through a list of approved mixed-use development plans.

At the southwest corner of the intersection, Aureum's developers, Brentwood-based SouthStarLLC, intend to begin construction of 350 multi-family homes in early 2023. Units will be split between an 11-story building with a rooftop terrace and a five-story building with a courtyard pool. The buildings would also have an outdoor walkway for pedestrians to clip between Aureum Drive and Aureum Trail.

Glenn McGehee, owner of SouthStarLLC, said the company is negotiating with potential customers to occupy commercial space to offer restaurants, entertainment and other services.

"We're launching in a very thoughtful and purposeful way to achieve some of the goals that we set out to do," said McGehee. "It's the overused 'live, work, play' cliche, but we want to create a sense of where everyone wants to be."

After more than a decade of growing office development in Cool Springs, a series of near-completed and planned future developments such as Aureum, Ovation Park and Franklin Summit, east of I-65, will begin

enhance the region's status as a regional economic center.

Regardless of when work might begin, developers said they are focused on building new roads, utilities and trails that will benefit everyonehe designsects.

"We have worked on almost all of these developments and with the owners of these developments to make this [area] their own community," said Ralph Knauss, executive vice president of SouthStarLLC. "There are multimodal network connections, hiking trails and sidewalks that make this walkable and driveable."

Visualisiere Franklin

The area is identified in the city's land use master plan, Envision Franklin, as suitable for "major centers of employment and revenue streams" that are valuable to the community.

The Franklin Envision Guidelines, a comprehensive land-use governance framework adopted in 2017, considers land along East McEwen Drive and Carothers Parkway, and south of Liberty Pike, as a regional trade concept suitable for centers of high activity.

"There's a lot of density at the intersection, but Envision Franklin says it belongs there, near the freeway," Amy Diaz-Barriga, Franklin's urban planning director, told the city's council of mayors and aldermen in late January. work session.

According to Diaz-Barriga, regulations allow taller building heights near I-65 and major thoroughfares, which gradually decrease as they near residential areas.

In evaluating developments such as Aureum and the potential Ovation Park to the east of Aureum, Diaz-Barriga said pedestrian connectivity and the creation of vibrant neighborhoods are priorities.

In the case of Aureum's plan revisions approved in January, the changes -- such as replacing an underground parking lot with an above-ground structure and creating an outdoor walkway between two streets -- conformed to those concepts, Diaz-Barriga said.

"The principles of connectivity and vibrant neighborhoods are becoming the cornerstone of almost every development that comes to the city," Diaz-Barriga said.

In addition, city engineer Paul Holzen said that during the development of site plans and permits, transit planners in the district work with developers to identify necessary road or pedestrian improvements.

With the potential to start more projects, he said the city will help adjust the changes to accommodate the additional traffic on and off the site.

"We will continue to monitor pedestrian connectivity and artery traffic as the area develops," Holzen said.

A changing market

Despite recent high office vacancy rates for SouthStarLLC and Highwoods Properties - the long-delayed potential developer of Ovation Park - these companies have expressed their continued commitment to moving forward.

According to research by Warning Young, a commercial real estate research firm, the vacancy rate for Cool Springs offices in the first quarter of this year was 23.9% overall and 27.2% for Class A offices.

In the case of Aureum, SouthStar halted the planned first phase of a 23,000-square-foot office building and two hotels in 2020 after COVID-19 emptied jobs and led to a flood of available offices nearby. On January 27, the Franklin Town Planning Commission approved the developer's plan to build first multi-family homes.

"The office market has changed a lot," said Knauss. "That doesn't mean it will never come back, but it's a question of when it will."

Knauss said the persistent office vacancy rate in Cool Springs reflects that companies still view buying or renting office space as a form of gambling.

"We still believe very much in the mixed-use aspect of our work, and we've had lively discussions with office users, but nobody was willing to pull the trigger, so to speak," Knauss said.

Calls to Highwoods Properties, Goldberg Companies Inc., based in Raleigh, NC, and other developers on projects in the area have gone unanswered as of press time.

However, Highwoods Properties executives have indicated in public comment that they plan to renew plans for Ovation Park, a sprawling mixed-use project approved in 2014 and located on the southwest corner of East McEwen and Carothers.

"Their development plan is basically valid until they want to propose something else," Diaz-Barriga said.

According to press reports, the project stalled in 2017 after Thomas Ovation LLC's development partner, Stan Thomas, filed for bankruptcy. According to the company, Highwoods bought Thomas's interest in the project for $57.8 million last October.

"Once we have the updated mixed-use master plan in place...we anticipate working to realize the tremendous potential of this live-work property while maintaining full control of the office development sites," said Ted Klinck, CEO of Highwoods, in a statement in October.

As originally planned, the project also included 950 residential units, 480,000 square feet of commercial space and 450 hotel rooms.

On April 26, during a conference call, Brian Leary, Highwoods' chief operating officer, said the company was evaluating a modified and "integrated" plan.

"As the master developer, we are considering a more integrated mixed-use plan and will work with the city and leading third-party residential and retail developers to advance mixed-use downtown," Leary said.

Further south on Carothers Parkway, Goldberg has broken ground on Huffines Ridge, which plans plan to include 426 residential units, offices and a 170-room hotel.

Carothers Crossing East, one of two other SouthStar developments, is nearing completion and will include a 43,500 square foot office building, a Lifetime Fitness and several other retail outlets. Directly across from Carothers Crossing East, at the northwest corner of Liberty Pike and Carothers, Carothers Crossing West SouthStar has partnered with San Antonio-based Embrey Realty for the Texas company to build 332 residential units. "We already have local, regional and national components and a lot of undeveloped properties that we can add to what's already happening," McGehee said.

preservation of the character of the place

As well as allowing capacity for more intensive development, the regional commercial design concept also recommends that new buildings in the area be designed to fit into the architectural context of the corridor and have coordinated access to road networks and facilities.

Ward 1 councilwoman Beverly Burger, who represents the Cool Springs area, said she supports more urbanization, although more involvement from city leadership and the planning and sustainability team is important to ensure built projects are well integrated.

"I'm concerned that we're all getting together to make sure everyone is talking, including the city," Burger said.

Burger said it's important that the city has input into the architectural appearance, pedestrian connectivity and planned uses where necessary.

"It's part of Cool Springs, but I think everything from I-65 East to Route 96 needs to have its own master plan," she said. "We don't have to lose the quality that defines Franklin."

Knauss said a ring road connecting Aureum Drive, Tower Circle and Ovation Parkway will ease connections between different developments.

Knauss said all developers are striving to find the right mix of shops, apartments and other uses to collectively capitalize on the area's growth.

"This area is truly Franklin's regional trading gold," said Knauss. "I would like to believe that if we do our job well, we will have a vision that fulfills everything the city asks for."

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Prof. An Powlowski

Last Updated: 02/17/2023

Views: 5938

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Prof. An Powlowski

Birthday: 1992-09-29

Address: Apt. 994 8891 Orval Hill, Brittnyburgh, AZ 41023-0398

Phone: +26417467956738

Job: District Marketing Strategist

Hobby: Embroidery, Bodybuilding, Motor sports, Amateur radio, Wood carving, Whittling, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Prof. An Powlowski, I am a charming, helpful, attractive, good, graceful, thoughtful, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.