PHOTO: Design documents show an overhead view of the proposed mixed-use development project proposed to be built on the Tennessee Children’s Home property. / Photo courtesy of the city of Spring Hill
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
The applicant for the mixed-use development project that would see the Tennessee Children’s Home property transformed into 102 acres of retail, residential, hotel and office space, as well as residential and assisted living, formally asked the city to review its development concept Monday night.
Additionally, the applicant asked for some flexibility regarding some of the retail space to allow for a live entertainment venue, given the project’s lengthy build-out timeline.
Proposed to be built on the eastern side of Main Street at Kedron Road, this mixed-use project has a potential build-out period of ten or more years.
Last Friday, the Spring Hill Historic Commission reviewed the project from a historical preservation context, and outlined a list of recommendations intended to maintain the historical integrity of the property, especially Ferguson Hall. Last Friday’s meeting also yielded a strong vocal response from many city residents, with many arguing that the project could be a detriment to the property’s historical value.
During Monday’s meeting, Jeffrey Heinze with Catalyst Design Group, the engineering firm attached to the project, said he shared many of the residents’ concerns over the preservation of the property, and that he found the meeting to be constructive.
“I think we had the beginnings of a good dialogue with [residents], and at the end of the evening realized that we really share some of the very same goals for this property,” Heinze said. “I think the development team realizes this is a very special property, and needs to be treated as such.”
The major concerns of residents could mostly be boiled down to fears that the story of the property might be lost in its development, which includes the Tennessee Children’s Home itself, skirmishes that took place on the property during the Civil War, as well as two cemeteries believed to be somewhere on the property.
Heinze said the goals of the project align with residents’ concerns, and that they would do everything in their power to preserve the integrity of the property.
“The basic goals [that] were discussed that evening,” Heinze continued, “[were] telling the story of the history in a very respectful and honoring manor, integrating green space and creating a sense of place, architectural continuity that is appropriate and seems to fit with the old town section, a lastly, but very importantly, protecting the historic registry qualifications of Ferguson Hall and doing nothing that would endanger that.”
Given the long term build-out of the project, Heinze also asked of the Planning Commission to consider some flexibility as to the types of retail businesses and restaurants that might end up on the site, specifically to allow for a potential live entertainment type of development.
“The live entertainment secondary use, I mentioned to staff as part of the type of uses that I see us recruiting for the retail part of this,” Heinze said. “Franklin has Puckett’s and Columbia has one – that type of venue that there’s some music being played, but it’s not obnoxious.”
The commission agreed that some flexibility on the project was “reasonable,” and that they would continue to review the concept plan until their next voting meeting.
The next voting meeting, where the Commission will further outline recommendations and a review of the concept plan, will be held on Monday, March 25 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public, and will have opportunities for public comment.