The year 2020 will be remembered for many things, most of them bad. But one good thing that might come out of this tumultuous time is approval of plans for a Farragut town center. And it’s been a long time coming.
Having a town center—a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly downtown area that gives the Farragut a unique sense of place—has been high on the community’s wish list for well over a decade. Developer Michael Bates’ plan for a town center on the property west of Farragut Town Hall was well underway until the economic crisis of 2008. A flyer for the project, “a great master development plan that will ignite community spirit with a mix of medium- and high-density, multi-family and other residential options,” can still be found online.
In 2012, Mig & Winston Consulting surveyed residents as part of an update to the town’s land use plan. Eighty percent of those surveyed favored a mix of residential and retail development in a town center, and 79 percent thought having a downtown was important to Farragut. The survey also showed that 69 percent thought increased housing options in the town’s core was a good idea.
That’s why “Bringing About a Downtown” is the first of eight key strategies in Farragut’s 2012 Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The future land use plan defines the area designated Mixed Use Town Center (roughly a one-mile radius along Kingston Pike from Campbell Station Road to Concord Road) and describes the intent of this district to “increase Farragut’s long-term economic sustainability by diversifying the retail tax base through the creation of a traditional downtown with a variety of shops, restaurants, businesses and residences, in a pedestrian-oriented setting.”
(For an interesting look at how we saw the future in the past, look at Downtown Design Concepts in the land use plan to see how town centers were imagined at the Campbell Station Inn, West End Shopping Center, the former Kroger site and the property west of Town Hall.)
Fast forward to 2015, when North Star Destination Strategies conducted research as part of the town’s rebranding. They surveyed residents and asked, if you could change one thing about Farragut that would improve its future, what would it be? “A more complete downtown feel” was the top response, followed by “a community center,” which became a reality this year.
In 2017, a survey conducted by Novak Consulting as part of an update to the town’s strategic plan asked residents how important a vibrant downtown is to the future of Farragut. Seventy-four percent said it was important.
Three times in the past eight years, Farragut residents have spoken up to say that having a town center is a priority. Now, there’s a plan on the table that could come to fruition. Budd Cullom of CHM Development has proposed a mixed-use town center development on the former Kroger site that includes public outdoor amenities along with commercial space and high-end apartments, and the Farragut Planning Commission has approved the concept plan. It will likely be several months before a final site plan can be approved, but if it is, two long-term goals will be accomplished: a downtown for Farragut and the removal of a prominent eyesore.
Town Administrator David Smoak has been here for 10 years, and he says the CHM plan is the best opportunity he’s seen for Farragut to achieve its vision of a downtown.
“There’s a lot of work that still has to be done, but a lot of work has already gone into creating this ‘sense of place’ by multiple parties.”
New development at the intersection of Campbell Station Road and Kingston Pike (Farragut Gateway, Admiral’s Corner and the Campbell Station Inn Plaza) gives us a taste of what’s to come in the Mixed-Use Town Center District, and it’s good. Let’s move forward with our desire for an attractive, walkable downtown with shops, restaurants, and entertainment that will attract visitors and new residents. Farragut’s future may have finally arrived.
Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.