New downtown district for Spring Hill nears approval


New downtown district for Spring Hill nears approval

After years of groundwork, plans for a new Spring Hill town center and mixed-use project could be approved by mid-February.

At a planning commission work session on Monday night, the project on the 103-acre Tennessee Children’s Home property off Main Street north of Kedron Road was laid out by Children’s Home President Brian King and developer Mike Hale, of KCS Construction.

“This has been a long time coming,” King said of the estimated $250 million project that would create a new municipal core and live, work, play district in the center of Spring Hill.

In addition to a new city hall and library, plans include approximately 320,000 square feet of office, restaurant and retail space and up to 600 residential units to be built out over a period of seven to 10 years. Historic Ferguson Hall, which sits on the property, would serve as a visitor’s center under the proposed plan. Also, 40 percent of the property would be maintained as city park space, including a public amphitheater around an existing lake with a focus on festivals, concerts and family activities.

The Children’s Home will build and move to a much-needed new campus on Doctor Robertson Road, according to King.

The rezoning request changes zoning on the property from B-2, Neighborhood Shopping District to Planned Zoning District (PZD) “to allow for five customized zoning districts to allow for the redevelopment of the property as a town center with a combination of municipal, institutional, commercial, and residential uses,” according to a report written by Spring Hill city planner Jon Baughman.

It could be voted on at the February 13 Planning Commission voting session.

Fly-by based on 2015 Master Plan submittal

King has been working with the city and developer for years to get to this point, with the project on the cusp of gaining city approval and beginning real site work.

“We have been talking about this in some way, shape or form for four years,” he said. “To formally start the process is a good thing.”

The project has gone through several Planning Commission work sessions and two developers, now. Insight Properties originally developed an overall master plan, essentially the same as the current one, according to King.

“This new group, KCS from Columbia, came in back in June and made an offer on the property,” he said. “Insight was trying to find buyers for the land and did not find any before the developer came in and said they would buy the whole property.”

The proposed rezoning was on the November Planning Commission agenda, and went through a work session then. It was pushed, among other reasons, because planners requested a traffic study, King said.

“Despite difficulties of conducting a study in December when traffic is irregular, it affirmed that Elm Street will need to be extended across to Kedron Road, and there will be a couple of entrances and roads, of course, built in the property,” King said.

Also, Ferguson Road, the main road onto the property from Main Street/U.S. 31 will need to be widened to three lanes.

In December the project was again removed from the planning commission agenda, this time at the request of KCS and King.

“Due to outstanding issues, including failure to notify the public via letters, the applicant requested to remove the item from the agenda following the work session [in December],” Baughman wrote.

King said, and Baughman confirmed, that the public-notification letters were sent.

Several other issues, according to Baughman’s report, still need to be addressed for the rezoning to be approved, however.

The Historic Commission must still recommend approving the plan, before a planning commission vote. But a no vote can’t kill the project. The project, which will be built over seven to 10 years, also currently lacks a clear phasing plan.

However, King feels things will be worked out and finished before the voting session.

“Hopefully it goes through,” he said.

The city’s planners and leaders, too, have worked to see a new town center coalesce around this project.

It was what the Board of Mayor and Aldermen had in mind when last April it amended Spring Hill’s zoning ordinance to include Planned District Zoning, according to Jonathan Duda, Alderman Ward 2 and planning commissioner. The PDZ allows projects like this town center or the proposed 775-acre Alexander property project, which also will likely be on the voting session agenda.

“These projects have been in discussion and planning for some time, and are the direct result of the combination of Long Range Planning efforts by the city, and recognition of the need in our community for developments that provide an opportunity for work– office and professional services; live– serving a variety of housing options; and play– including parks and supporting services like convenience commercial,” Duda, who is an Alderman and Planning Commission member,” said.

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