The Farragut community is abuzz with excitement over the progress of the development on the southwest corner of the Campbell Station Road/Kingston Pike intersection. And let’s face it – most are primarily thinking of pumpkin spice lattes.
But the Farragut Gateway Project represents more than just drive-through coffee. It’s the first development built to the standards of the Town’s Mixed Use Town Center planning area. With a coffee shop, a medical office and one other yet-to-be named tenant, it’s not exactly a downtown, but it is the first piece of what Town planners hope will eventually become a walkable network of shops, restaurants, businesses and residences in the heart of Farragut.
There are several things that make this project unique, not just in Farragut, but in West Knox County. Buildings are closer to the road, and parking is behind the development. The structures are close together with an emphasis on outdoor gathering space. A higher percentage of brick gives MUTC development a timeless character, says Farragut Community Development Director Mark Shipley.
The “timeless” description is key because the goal is to simulate a traditional downtown, like those found in cities built a century ago. That’s the kind of area that gives a community an identity, Shipley says.
“We still don’t have a central place that people associate with Farragut.”
This development may seem like a small step in the right direction, but paired with improvements to the historic Campbell Station Inn directly across the street, the project could have a trickle-down effect.
The Town has hoped to find a developer for the former Phillips 66 station on the northeast corner of the intersection – also located in the MUTC planning area – for several years. The gas station closed in 2012. The property has some obvious challenges, like its small size and proximity to a busy intersection, but Shipley hopes the Gateway Project could spur renewed interest.
The ideal outcome of the MUTC planning area would be a mixture of multiple-use, free-standing buildings oriented toward the street to encourage pedestrian traffic, he says. It needs to include office space and high-density residential development so that there will be people to support businesses and restaurants. (To see the MUTC on the Future Land Use Map, click here.)
The Gateway Project is a good first step, and it’s been a long time coming. The Silver Spoon closed in the mid-2000s. The original site plan for the project was approved back in 2016 and modified in 2017. Starbucks is expected to open in early 2019.
Downtowns don’t spring up overnight. They require significant financial investment as well as community buy-in. Both could be triggered when people start spending time at Starbucks or in the new plaza that will soon spring up around the Campbell Station Inn. With a little bit of imagination, it’s easy to visualize what Farragut’s MUTC planning area could become if more development follows.