Yes, it’s true. The town of Farragut has been approached by Topgolf to open a location on Outlet Drive just west of Cotton Eyed Joe. They want to come, and we want them here, but the planning commission and Board of Mayor and Aldermen must work through the necessary changes to the town’s zoning ordinance to make it happen.
Big businesses don’t fall out of the sky and land in small municipalities like Farragut. This potential win for residents and golf lovers is the result of the town’s efforts to market commercially attractive parcels to tax-producing giants. Farragut representatives began the conversation with Topgolf years ago and continued to pursue the entertainment venue after it opened its first Tennessee facility in Nashville in 2016. It will be a hard-fought win if Topgolf comes to town. Costco is another example of a long conversation that ultimately paid off big for Farragut.
I sat down with Mayor Ron Williams to discuss business development in Farragut. I asked him what would happen if town officials waited for businesses to come to us, rather than actively pursuing them. His answer was simple – Farragut would end up with a property tax.
Williams was elected alderman in 2016 and mayor in 2018, but he began studying the town years before that. He’s familiar with every available commercial property, and he’s made it his mission to match appropriate businesses with those parcels. As an “idea guy,” he also pursues things like connecting the west end of Snyder Road to Hatmaker Lane in order to create more commercial property.
“To accomplish things like this, you have to get the foundation done early,” he says.
He also has ideas about what Farragut needs to attract the next generation of residents. One is more restaurants, he says, so people won’t choose to drive to downtown Knoxville for dinner. He’d like to see a fish house come to town, and he’s had an ongoing conversation with the head of the In-N-Out Burger franchise about Farragut becoming the restaurant’s first East Coast location.
Williams is excited about seeing new small businesses move into the former Ingles shopping center and has spoken to several interested lessees. But it’s up to the real estate developer to fill empty spaces.
“All I can do is tell people there is space coming open, and this is the guy to see.”
The creation of new zoning districts is another way to attract business. The mayor is in favor of smart growth, a planning philosophy that promotes mixed-use development, walkability and compact design to reduce urban sprawl. He is a member of the Comprehensive Land Use Steering Committee, which is considering a new zoning district that would allow walkable, small-scale commercial development in residential areas like the McFee Road corridor.
Development of a mixed-use town center is also high on the mayor’s priority list. Finding the right developer is key to making that happen, he says, and he hopes the town can turn attention to that after Topgolf is official.
You can be sure that the wheels are already turning on several new projects in Farragut. I look forward to making more exciting announcements in the future.
Wendy Smith coordinates marketing and public relations for the town of Farragut.