Making Outlet Drive great again

Wendy SmithFarragut, Feature, The Farragut Insider

Right now, the Outlet Drive/Snyder Road area is a hodgepodge of service, entertainment and light industrial businesses. But now that 45,000 square feet (of 162,000 total) in the former outlet mall has been leased as office space, the area may be poised for a new beginning.

The Outlet Drive area has had high points and low points in recent decades. Visitors flocked to the new outlet mall (11221 Outlet Drive) in the early 1980s, but the building stood empty for several years before millions were invested in the site for Turkey Creek Public Market, which opened in 2011. It closed within the year. Garden Ridge, which eventually became At Home, opened in the space in 2012 but has since moved to Parkside Drive.

Outlet Drive and Snyder Road were connected in 2012, creating a corridor from Campbell Station Road to Lovell Road. New development followed, but there are still several vacant parcels along the two roads.

Jim Nixon of Turley & Co. is working on leasing space in the former outlet mall, which is owned by Kodak Partners.

“It’s probably the greenest building around,” says Nixon. “For the operator of a business, that would really be an advantage. It’s also a pretty good location.”

He won’t reveal who’s moving in or how many employees will work there except to say, “It’s a lot.” If the entire space is leased, it could change the corridor’s character. That’s why the town of Farragut Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) Steering Committee is considering land use changes that might better meet the needs of the evolving area.

The corridor has some challenges. Parts of Snyder Road/Outlet Drive are in Farragut, others are in Knoxville and some are in Knox County. The area is separated from Farragut by I-40, and a lack of pedestrian access from one side of the interstate to the other is problematic.

But it also has assets. It’s a gateway to Farragut via Lovell Road, and it’s easily accessible – and visible – from I-40. Construction of the Tapestry at Turkey Creek is now complete, yielding 220 luxury apartments on Snyder Road. The Overlook, currently under construction on Campbell Station Road just north of Snyder Road, will add another 255 units.

A large daytime workforce combined with new residents within walking distance of the corridor could sustain new retail business, says Farragut community development director Mark Shipley.

“Then they wouldn’t have to fool with crossing the interstate.”

The CLUP Steering Committee is also interested in courting development that could draw regional visitors. Cotton Eyed Joe, which won the Academy of Country Music ACM Nightclub of the Year award this year,has been attracting country music (and beer) fans for decades. Two large Outlet Drive tracts with I-40 frontage might benefit from the creation of an entertainment land use designation, Shipley says.

The CLUP Steering Committee should be applauded for assessing and analyzing potential development in Farragut. It’s the kind of forward thinking that will eventually result in a stronger tax base and better amenities for residents.

Wendy Smith coordinates marketing and public relations for the Town of Farragut.

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