Pinpointing his recommending source: Cullom

The late David Purvis, long-time Farragut businessman and one of the founders of Shop Farragut/Farragut Business Alliance, was key in bringing together developer Budd Cullom and the property on which he plans to build Farragut Town Center at Biddle Farms.

While Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen were considering three ordinances required to move the project forward (see separate story) during its Thursday, Jan. 14, meeting, Collum told BOMA about “being approached by members of the FBA, in late 2018-(early 20)19, to ask us if we would be willing to meet with Town staff and look at the idea of the Biddle property, in trying to create a Town Center.

“Initially we were hesitant,” he added. “But the more we looked at it, we thought the location was superior; and I hated it, that the (former) Kroger had sat vacant for so long.”

While Cullom didn’t mention a specific SF/FBA member by name during the meeting, in a follow-up e-mail he clarified and confirmed it was Mr. Purvis “alone who first approached me” about the project.

“I have been thinking about the Biddle Farm for 30 years,” added Cullom, a 1982 Farragut High School graduate who has developed shopping centers and multi-family complexes locally and throughout the South, including Northshore Town Center.

Farragut Mayor Ron Williams (also a member of SF/FBA) in a separate interview said he was not surprised Mr. Purvis reached out to Cullom.

“David was always a friend to Farragut,” Williams said of Mr. Purvis, who served as Alliance treasurer at the time of his death in December. “He was the driving force in trying to get something going on a Town Center, and was always trying to get someone interested in the Biddle property.”

In an e-mail about Town leaders and the goal of a Town Center, Williams stated, “The long-time vision of the Town founders was to see an actual Farragut Town Center. (The late) Mayor (Ralph) McGill championed many a cause, with this one right up at the top of the list.

“With David Purvis as a liquor store business owner in the old Kroger complex (the former Farragut Wine & Spirits) his thought was to push this property, as it really needed to be totally repurposed,” his statement continued. “He had past business dealings with Cullum, a principal with CHM Development, who he approached with the thought of a horizontal Town Center.

“It was not until CHM Group brought the project to the Town staff did myself or Vice Mayor (Louise) Povlin know of Cullom or anyone connected to CHM Development.”

The Alliance is a 501(c)(6) organization, established to support Town business.

Its stated mission “is to positively impact Farragut’s economic growth by assisting new businesses, supporting and promoting existing businesses and, in coordination with the Town of Farragut, aiding in the economic development and promotion of the community.”

It has eight members, which include Povlin, Town administrator David Smoak (ex-officio, non-voting member) and Tony Cox, publisher of farragutpress and president of Republic Newspapers, Inc., parent company of farragutpress.

“The Farragut Business Alliance is not a Town of Farragut committee but a non-profit organization made up of all types of Farragut business owners as members,” Williams’ e-mail further stated.

Led by Stephen F. Krempasky, executive director, “… One of their many goals is make Farragut a better place to do business,” Williams’ e-mail also stated.

“They basically are an economic development team — in a way like a chamber of commerce. Examples of their members’ hard work would include the Costco project, the future Top Golf project and now the Town Center at Biddle Farms.”

Since the Jan. 14 meeting, several social media posters have made negative remarks in response to the SF/FBA’s involvement in the Biddle Farms project, accusing the entire Alliance Board of recruiting Cullom and possibly violating the Sunshine Law among their accusations.