Building a gateway to Farragut

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

My family’s go-to beach spot is the 30A area in the Florida Panhandle. It takes a day of driving to get there, but when we reach the impossibly tall bridge over the bay, we know we’ve arrived. It signals the beginning of our vacation.

The Highway 331 bridge is a literal gateway to the 30A beaches. Some gateways are simply visual cues that we’ve reached a destination, like an interstate exit or a landscaped subdivision entrance. Even these everyday images are comforting because they tell us that we’re almost home.

Because the town of Farragut doesn’t have an iconic downtown, there’s currently nothing to signal when you’ve “arrived,” unless you count the exit 373 sign at I-40/75. That could change with upcoming improvements to the intersection of Campbell Station Road and Kingston Pike.

This important crossroads has already experienced a major transformation. The Farragut Gateway development on the southwest corner has a pleasing downtown vibe, and the demolition of the former gas station on the northeast corner is imminent. The new property owner is considering a novel use for the space.

The Campbell Station Inn on the northwest corner has gone from ugly duckling to swan over the past 18 months, and there are more good things in the works for this important property. Now that the exterior of the inn has been restored, the next phase is a beautifully landscaped park-like plaza that is sure to be both a dramatic gateway to the town and a community gathering place. Plans for the project are nearly complete and should go out for bid in July, so construction could begin by end of summer and be completed by early 2020.

The site plan includes two open lawns that will be appropriate for special events. One is a round lawn located near the intersection that will be raised above the level of the road, and the other is a large open area behind the inn. The plaza will have an attractive, tiered entrance from the corner sidewalk.

The area will be extensively landscaped with trees, bushes and flowers. Outdoor lighting in keeping with the period of the inn will be installed, and accent lighting will be added to the inn and some large trees along Kingston Pike.

The functionality of the site will be improved with two new entrance drives and a connection to Village Green Shopping Center. The new drives are a cooperative venture with White Realty, and they will be right-in-only and right-out-only onto Campbell Station Road and Kingston Pike. Permanent restroom facilities will also be installed.

Sue Stuhl, Farragut’s parks and recreation director, thinks the new greenspace will be something that makes residents proud.

“This will make a statement about what we want our downtown to be. The board has committed money to making this an important corner, and we’ve already seen a big difference. It’s been a long road, but it takes time to do it right.”

The new plaza at the Campbell Station Inn, along with the other new developments at the intersection of Kingston Pike and Campbell Station Road, signals that the town is making progress in its quest for a defined downtown area. It won’t happen overnight, but when it does, you’ll know you’ve arrived at a very special place.

Wendy Smith is public relations and marketing coordinator for the town of Farragut.

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