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Outlet Drive entertainment corridor is example of Town’s vision for smart growth

It’s official now – TopGolf is coming to Farragut. I’m glad to have played a role in the multi-year effort to bring this attraction to Town.

It’s a franchise that has proven to be extremely popular in other cities and I have no doubt that this high-tech driving range will be popular with locals as well as regional visitors. It’s an obvious win as an entertainment venue and as a tax revenue producer.

But adding TopGolf to the Outlet Drive corridor has potential to impact Farragut in another important way. It could be the first of several businesses that will make up Farragut’s new entertainment corridor.

The corridor has unique characteristics that simultaneously isolate it and position it for further development. If you look at a map, the road is surrounded by Knox County on two sides and I-40/I-75 on another side.

Even though it’s close to Turkey Creek shopping center, the Interstate is a significant barrier between the two corridors. Development along the Knox County portion of Outlet Drive – like Cotton Eyed Joe, Shoot Point Blank shooting range and businesses housed in warehouses – is entirely different from Turkey Creek’s shopping and dining.

But these differences create opportunity. The proximity to the Interstate makes Outlet Drive appealing to businesses that aim to attract regional visitors. Not only is much of Farragut’s portion of the road visible from I-40/I-75, it has easy access from two exits. The isolation of Outlet Drive, along with its the current development, make a good case for relaxing Farragut’s design standards there, which could also be appealing to some businesses.

That’s why the Future Land Use Map was amended in April. The area was studied by the Comprehensive Land Use Plan Steering Committee, which recommended a change from office/light industrial to regional commercial along the Outlet Drive corridor. Changing the designation encourages tax-producing development like TopGolf, as opposed to office space, which doesn’t produce tax revenue.

Changing the Future Land Use Map also allowed for the creation of the Outlet Drive Regional Entertainment and Employment District zoning district.

The new zoning passed on second reading at the last Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting. It permits new uses and allows architectural flexibility and signage that takes into account surrounding development.

When Farragut was founded almost 40 years ago, no one could’ve imagined Outlet Drive as a possible entertainment district.

But now that TopGolf has entered the market, it’s easy to envision the area bustling with hotels, restaurants and other active entertainment.

The Sitel workforce, along with future tenants at the former outlet mall, could provide daytime customers and a new luxury apartment complex will create evening traffic.

The Town is in the process of adding a left-turn lane from Snyder Road onto Campbell Station Road to make I-40/I-75 access easier, which will further encourage development. (Outlet Drive turns into Snyder as it heads west.)

Farragut will continue to thrive and grow as long as we continue to look for ways to improve our Town and provide services and amenities that residents want.

We must be able to adapt our land use plans, and our thinking, in order to create the opportunities that future residents will want.