Town center a big topic at Staff meeting

The subject of a town center was one of the main topics at the Wednesday, July 5, Town of Farragut Staff/Developer meeting in Town Hall.

Two Farragut residents got the chance to voice their opinions about a variety of things, including the “old” Ingles shopping center and Farragut architecture.

On the agenda were height requirements for future development on the corners of Kingston Pike and Campbell Station Road.

“I’m interested to see what they come up with on the corner,” Cheryl Nehls, a Farragut resident who lives off Smith Road, said before the meeting began.

“The old Silver Spoon property is on our land use map,” Mark Shipley, Community Development director, said. “It’s been adopted by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen as a top priority because we want to develop a downtown.”

That property is slated to include a smaller and a larger building.

“Did he get back to you?” Nehls asked about Jake Ogle, a developer of the site.

“I haven’t seen anything formal yet,” Shipley said. “Jake Ogle said the numbers [cost per square foot] are still high.”

“The smaller building is a Starbucks, isn’t it?” Robin Hill, a longtime Farragut resident and former Farragut Municipal Planning Commission chair, said.

“Yes,” Shipley said.

Hill expressed his concern about adding a freestanding Starbucks to ones already in Kroger and Ingles.

“The planning commission shouldn’t do anything to encourage [too many Starbucks],” Hill said.

“This is not about Starbucks,” Alderman Louise Povlin said. “This is about a restaurant, and even if that doesn’t work out, that we’ve built a building that can be repurposed. It’s not our job to decide which entity goes in there.”

Alderman Ron Williams said that his daughter-in-law is the manager of a Starbucks in Indianapolis and that 70 percent of their business is from the drive-through.

“We want structures that resemble a downtown and are pedestrian-friendly,” Shipley said about the mixed-use area. “We’ve got some parcels in the mixed-use town center area that are really small.”

Shipley went on to explain that the two-story height requirement, or the appearance of having a second floor, has been a hardship for the developers of the old Silver Spoon property.

Povlin said the last rendering of the proposed development “looked tortured. … It’s a highly unattractive building. It was awful, very disheartening. A well done one-story building is better than a building that’s trying to look like two stories with a reduced height.”

“One thing I don’t want for the Town is to put a false front on the buildings like they did at Turkey Creek,” Hill said. “That’s junk.”

“They don’t really have enough physical space for the parking,” Shipley said about the larger building. “It doesn’t have the ability to have a leasable second floor because they don’t have enough space for parking. What we talked about is whether we should limit the acreage and give somebody with a small piece of property the ability to amend the height requirement (to one story) and changing the language to not require the two stories for every building.”

Nehls asked if buildings shouldn’t be planned for the distant future so that a third story could be added, with the possibility of a nearby parking garage.

“That should probably be looked at,” Shipley said.

“This is my concern,” Povlin said. “It’s good to think outside the box. We can want a town center all we want. But we live in suburbia and people want to live in the suburbs. People like having a yard. We might like to have all this, but is it reasonable? We may be putting a lot of costs on developers.”

“My ideal is low structures [homes and businesses] so that everybody can see the ridges,” Nehls said.

“Do we want the town center to be here in the ‘town center?’” Hill asked. “Because that’s not how we’re acting in terms of things being built. Another town center is already there at Renaissance and Watt Road … Ten years ago I told Noah and Knick Myers that would be the center of Town and they were doing the right thing.”

“I think the only other place is the old Ingles, but there is not really enough property,” Shipley said.

Hill said that as a long time Town resident, that’s what he’d always hoped for.

“Sometimes what you hope for and what the property owners want to do aren’t the same thing,” Williams said. “We’ve got to fix those two corners.”

“Are there any incentives being given to Conoco [Phillips 66] to keep the weeds from growing up and not looking run down?” Nehls asked.

“As a Town, are you all doing anything to contact Mr. Ingles and tell him his old shopping center is falling apart?” Hill asked.

He added the old Ingles is “a dustbin” and “the best thing you could hope for is a good fire.”

“That building has a lot of potential,” Shipley said.

However, Hill said, “If you’re looking for a town center [location[, that’s made to order for it.”