Spring Hill’s Board of Mayor and Alderman heard a second and final reading for the approval of a huge mixed-use rezoning on Monday.

It was approved 6-3.

As envisioned by real estate developer Southeast Venture, the 775.5-acre property at 2660 Buckner Lane will create 3.9 million square feet of office space, 1.3 million square feet of retail and restaurant space, 400 hotel rooms and 2,926 housing units over 20 years. The BOMA on Monday heard a final reading of a resolution that rezones the property as a five-zone mixed-use area.

“I was asked a couple weeks ago what I look at on rezoning request and our comprehensive plan lays out seven goals for the city, seven areas where we want to advance between now and 2040. Typically a rezoning request will advance two, three or four of our goals. This advances all 7,” Matt Fitterer, Alderman Ward 2, who voted for the resolution, said. “I have never seen a request before that advances as many different aspects of the comprehensive plan as this did. It will have a huge benefit and is a huge step in the right direction for the city.”

“I understand the fear and apprehension that is out there about this because people have seen the ways in the past where elsewhere development has outpaced infrastructure, but I don’t think that is going to occur here. It is a solidly structured now passed plan that gives us necessary infrastructure improvements with development.”

Fitterer said that he trusts the Zoning Ordinance and planning process to handle the development of the property, which will build in over 20 years and make a large number of road and infrastructure improvements. 

He said the city’s laws covering this project were modeled on the one used by Franklin in the Berry Farms project, which was first passed in 2004 and which has developed over years in a beneficial, organized and well-paced way. He expects this project to follow that mold.

“Rezoning 775 acres in a coordinated, planned manner is totally new and different. The fear is from these uncoordinated smaller projects that led to our collective messes. That fear is understandable but that is not what is occurring here,” he said.

History of the Buckner Lane project

The planning commission approved in February rezoning the tract to a five-zone mixed use development.

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The land, bound by Buckner Lane on the west, Thompson’s Station Road on the north, Summit High School to the south and I-65 to the east, if rezoned would transition from a mix of agricultural and R-2 Medium Density Residential to a Planned Zoning District.

The city last year designated the area as a “Gateway District.”

The sketch plan submitted by Southeast Venture proposes five phases of development ending in 2037, with retail and residential areas building out first, followed by office space. As Mayor Rick Graham has said, this would essentially create a southern extension of Williamson County’s commercial hub of Cool Springs.

Southeast Venture presented plans that show phase one building out 159 single-family homes and 280,962 square feet of retail and restaurant space by 2021.

Phase two plans for an additional 342 single-family homes, as well as 1,238 cottage, townhouse, multi-family homes. It would also contain another 751,410 square feet of retail and restaurant space by 2026.

Phases three through five would add 273 single-family homes; 914 multi-family homes; 530,452 square feet of retail and restaurant space; and 3,902,250 square feet of Class A office space and 400 hotel rooms by 2037.

A planning department report stated that phases three through five, because of traffic impacts, depend totally upon the building of an I-65 interchange at Buckner Lane.

Currently the interchange needs federal funding and approval. It is not part of the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s three-year plan, which updates annually as priority list for funding.

It’s also not on the state’s new project list, which identifies needs not currently under development. But TDOT has endorsed the Buckner interchange plan and forwarded it to the Federal Highway Administration for further review.

“The office component helps our chances but doesn’t assure it,” Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham said. “They will not build the office buildings if it is not approved, but I like our chances and so do the developers.”

The “vision” of the project, according to its request proposal, includes statements that the project will “be an inviting front door for Spring Hill from the Interstate; become a Class A employment center for Spring Hill; and be a part of the regional traffic solution.”

Plans include a number of short, mid- and long-term road work needs, such as re-directing Buckner Lane, work on Thompson’s Station Road and an I-65 Buckner Road interchange. The level of funding the developer will provide will be worked out in the planning process.

How the site will build out is not specifically designed yet, but the project will follow principles and guidelines set out by the city’s Spring Hill Rising 2040 Plan.

The overlay includes allowances for up to 10-story buildings, and focuses on internally connected streets and higher density.

The project is one of the most ambitious mixed-use developments in the history of the county. It would outsize the near-billion dollar Ovation project in Cool Springs, which will have 950 residential units; 480,000 square feet of retail space; 1.4 million square feet of Class A office space; and two hotels with a combined 450 rooms.

Cost for the project remains unknown.

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