In a marathon meeting Jan. 28-29, the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved three ordinances on second reading, clearing the way for the Farragut Town Center at Biddle Farms project, proposed by CHM LLC.
The vote was unanimous, 5-0, on all three ordinances.
The 43.63-acre development includes the old Kroger and its empty parking lot – community eyesores across from the entrance to Farragut High School. The new town center will be built up to Kingston Pike with an array of restaurants, small shops and apartments. (Our earlier story here).
Thursday’s meeting had over four hours of citizens’ comments, read into the record by Town Recorder Allison Myers and Town Administrator David Smoak. The meeting was via Webex and was live-streamed on the town’s website. Most comments opposed the apartments. One was blunt: “Not just anyone can live in Farragut. Let’s keep it that way!”
The meeting had moments of raw emotion with one alderman expressing outrage that his minor children had been harassed by opponents. He said another alderman’s business had been targeted.
On the record: Vice Mayor Louise Povlin said, “This development will be an asset to our community … in a way a typical car-centric development would not.”
Alderman Drew Burnette said he’s excited about the town’s future. He empathized with those who hate to see the Biddle Farm developed, but said, “Our choice is not between the farm and development. Our choice is between this sort of cohesive development (proposed by CHM) or to allow it to develop as zoned with big boxes and little benefit for pedestrians.
Alderman Scott Meyer praised the design, saying the apartments will provide walk-in customers for the businesses, “to help them compete with Turkey Creek.”
Alderman Ron Pinchok said the project had been debated and discussed for 12 months. It was redesigned to accommodate suggestions by the BOMA, and he liked the changes. Except one. The flat roofs. “Let’s get the heads back on those buildings.” It was hard to tell if he was kidding because his own head on the Webex was about a millimeter high.
Mayor Ron Williams mostly smiled. He has driven this project from the outset.
Developer Budd Cullom seemed near tears as he refuted charges that he would let a nearby cemetery flood. Cullom said his inlaws are buried there, his parents have plots there and odds are good that he and his wife will be buried there. He will not hurt the cemetery, he said.
Cullom recalled his Farragut High School graduating class, and said, “We’re very proud of what we’re offering Farragut.”
CHM LLC was formed in 2011 by developers Budd Cullom, Jim Harrison and Mike McGuffin. The men had collaborated in 2009 to rescue the 133-acre, mixed use project, Northshore Town Center. According to its website, CHM has completed more than $100 million of retail projects totaling more than 500,000 square feet. Regional and national retailers in CHM developments include Publix, Target, Walmart, Kroger, Academy Sports, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco, Panera Bread and Chipotle.