Firm advice: mix Town Center, millennials

A rendering of a building that would begin to define Farragut’s proposed Town Center, if approved, came with advice for town of Farragut leaders to develop such a center while making it millennial-friendly.

R. Knick Myers, co-founder of Myers Brothers Holdings, unveiled a rendering of a proposed three-story brick mixed use [office, retail and possibly residential] building nicknamed “Knickerbocker Building.” With a base of just under 5,000 square feet, its planned location is along Municipal Center Drive next to Farragut Post Office. This discussion was part of Economic Development Advisory Committee’s monthly “first Wednesday morning” meeting May 3 in Town Hall Community Room.

Kevin Reeve, director of operations for Girl on the Roof, the firm hired to enhance the Town’s branding, said “a modern mixed-use development basically would help establish a focused town center in the town of Farragut. “And they can have things that appeal cross generationally. Could be things like coffee shops, a craft brewery, an organic market, a dog park, a place for live music.”

Carol Reeve, the firm’s chief marketing strategist, said the Town needed “affordable housing” to draw “millennials,” younger residents born in 1982 and after.

“… Millennials are less concerned about the size of their home because their space between home and work is a coffee shop or a brewery or something like that. They don’t want the large maintenance responsibilities of a larger home,” Carol Reeve added.

The bottom line: “You need to have millennials in order to maintain property values over the long term for Farragut,” Carol Reeve added.

“This Town has an aging population that, unfortunately, will age out and we’ll have a hard time maintaining this with that particular demographic,” William Britt, EDAC member, said.

As for developing “a defined downtown,” Kevin Reeve said, “continue to develop the intersection of Campbell Station Road and Kingston Pike into a defined downtown. Some place that’s going to be pedestrian friendly that people can walk around. … This is something, as you all know, that has been identified by people as something that they desire Farragut to have for the long term.”

Myers said the proposed “Knickerbocker Building,” which he and MBH co-founder Noah Myers, his brother, hope to have under construction sometime this year, “has been very well received. We’re excited about it. We think this is a benchmark to establish the level of expectation to what a future downtown district would look like.”

As for what the building would house, “We have the flexibility to do whatever we can do within the constraints of code,” Myers said.

“We’ve been asked a lot, ‘could people have a loft in this and live in it?’ And the answer to that is yes,” Myers added.

However, “It is unlikely that it would happen,’ he said. “This idea of having mixed use … creates a whole lot of challenges because then the developer/builder has to meet both a commercial code and a residential code and they overlap each other.”

Discussing the Town’s relatively new slogan, “Live Closer Go Further,” EDAC member Jim Holladay said, “When that slogan was first introduced, it was probably the second most controversial thing I remember. A lot of people didn’t like it, they didn’t understand it, they don’t use it.”

“What you’re saying is consistent with the feedback we’ve discovered in Phase I,” Carol Reeve said. “But we were told, ‘you know what, that ship has already sailed.’”

“As we noted in Phase I, [the slogan] has kind of a residential bend to it, and we want to make sure we’re not limiting the brand to just that particular facet,” Kevin Reeve said.

As for what Holladay said was “by far the most controversial thing,” it was an apartment complex first proposed in 2015 near the Kingston Pike-Peterson Road intersection.

“… It was a very nice, first-class complex but it was overwhelmingly rejected by the citizens of Farragut,” he said.

Louise Povlin, Town alderman, clarified Holladay’s point by saying, “it was the location of the apartments” that met with strong community opposition.”