FMPC looks closer at Watt/K-Pike mixed-use zoning

With all the talk of “placemaking,” “greenspace” and a thumbs-down on a drive-through, things seemed a little tense Thursday night, April 20, at Farragut Municipal Planning Commission's monthly meeting in Town Hall boardroom.

Town leaders and developers went back and forth over the proposed development for the corner of South Watt Road and Kingston Pike. If everything goes right for developers Tyler Lindsey and Daniel Smith and their engineer, Mark Bialik, their proposal for a change in zoning will go through and they’ll build apartments, stores, offices, a gas station — and maybe even a drive-through — in one location.

But when drive-throughs came up, Mark Shipley, Community Development director who led the meeting, made it clear he wasn’t in support.

“The drive-through is a long-term bad decision as far as physical space,” Shipley said.

“Then you’re dictating the development,” Bialik said. “You’re basically holding the developers’ hands behind their back now.”

Criticism of the development didn’t end there. FMPC members didn't voice support for a big parking lot.

“Right now, it just looks like too much asphalt,” Rose Ann Kile said.

Bialik defended the large amount of pavement, saying parking is needed for the gas station, the apartments and the apartments above the mixed-used building, adding apartment dwellers want two spaces per unit and the design is only allowing for a 1.75-to-1 spaces-to-unit ratio.

“We’re squeezing everything we can squeeze to get more green space into this,” he said.

During the discussion, Shipley repeatedly said he wanted to see the development be “placemaking,” be a place people drive to, even if they don’t live there.

Smith pointed out they had had architects involved, and would involve them again.

“With all due respect to architects, they’re not placemakers,” Shipley said. “We can’t design it for them here. None of us are placemakers, but they need one. It’s got to have a cohesion, which it doesn’t have now in my opinion. If they get it right, it’s going to be a showplace development for this part of the county.”

“Mark, I understand your placemaking,” Bialik said, “but you’ve got to understand the topography and you’ve got to understand it from a developer’s standpoint … it’s a very complicated thing … the property keeps going uphill. We’re fighting a lot of issues to accommodate you. We’ll go back and scratch our heads.

“My name has been associated with Turkey Creek,” he added, “and I’ve been very d--- proud. I want to be very d--- proud of this development.”

“We’re just trying to challenge the thinking in the early stages and see what can be done,” Commission member Ed St. Clair said. “We’re not trying to dictate anything.”

“This was just a workshop where everyone throws their opinions out,” Lindsey said as he, Smith and Bialik gathered in Town Hall Rotunda after their part of the meeting was over. Lindsey owns 8-and-one-half of the 18-and-one-half acres under consideration.

“We’re asking for rezoning,” Smith said, “and we have to

have a concept plan. It’s a lot more collaborative project than is typical.”

Among other topics, the meeting ended with members considering how to improve a number of Town roads: Boring, Grigsby Chapel, Everett, Union, Allen Kirby, Boyd Station, Turkey Creek and Evans.

“Instead of thinking of streets as just for cars,” Shipley said,

“we can think of them as linear placemaking.”