Smiles all around as Starbucks opens

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

The Farragut Gateway Starbucks opened last Thursday with much fanfare. For coffee lovers, the store represents drive-through access and a new hangout. For the town, the development signifies more.

The Gateway project is the culmination of years of trying to identify the right developer with the right plan for this highly visible property in Farragut’s Town Center overlay. Finding someone who was willing to work with the town on a timeless, pedestrian-friendly development that will eventually be part of a thriving downtown was a challenge.

Enter Farragut resident Paul Schaffer of Middlebrook Properties. He and his partners, Mike Channell, Jake Ogle and Taylor Ogle, knew that Starbucks wanted to be on that corner of Kingston Pike and Campbell Station Road, so they purchased the property. When town staff explained what was envisioned there – a development with a second story or a faux second story – it was cost prohibitive, he said.

“These things look pretty in renderings, but the original plan was just too expensive. It couldn’t be done.”

The team worked closely with Town Administrator David Smoak, Community Development Director Mark Shipley and Planning Commissioner Noah Myers to come up with a project that worked for both sides.

“There were very stringent requirements, but they were easy to work with. They were reasonable about changes that had to be made,” Schaffer says. “We’re really pleased with the way it turned out and look forward to possibly getting everybody open by summer.”

Starbucks is the sole occupant of one building; the other will hold four tenants. Space is currently being built out for a dental group, and there are a handful of tenants “waiting to get in,” he says.

“Frankly, the rents will be high because they have to be. That limits some potential tenants. But it’s a homerun location and a beautiful building, so the tenants will be successful.”

Now that the first project has been completed, Schaffer thinks it will be easier for developers to work within the Town Center overlay. Future projects could be on the horizon with the recent sale of the former gas station on the northeast corner of Kingston Pike and Campbell Station Road and the end of the lease on the former Kroger store – both located within the overlay.

Shipley agrees that working with Schaffer on the Gateway project was a positive process.

“We all had a good experience working with Paul and his folks. They had issues with the original design, so we looked at the ordinance and amended it for small lots to give developers more flexibility. I like how it turned out. It shows people what it looks like if you put a building near the road and enhance parking with decorative lighting. It’s different from what you normally see in suburbia.”

Because of the cost of the project, Schaffer said their return would be less than what they usually expect. But that won’t stop them from pursuing other projects within the overlay.

“We would love to,” he says.

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

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