7 Huge Williamson County Projects Under Construction

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3. Ovation

Ovation, the near-billion-dollar mixed-used Cool Springs Project hit a bit of a snag this summer.

The massive and massively expensive (about a billion dollars) project has been in the works for four years. The 145-acre site, owned by several developers, includes 950 residential units, 480,000 square feet of retail space, 1.4 million square feet of “top grade Class A” office space, and two hotels with a combined 450 rooms. It will be anchored by a 12-floor, 300,000 square foot tower.

The owner of half the site, Stan Thomas, the Atlanta-based principle of Thomas Land, came within a hair of having to declare his Thomas Ovation LLC bankrupt in July. Thomas is developing all but the commercial and residential real estate portion of the project.

Thomas Ovation LLC filed for bankruptcy in May in Atlanta. A foreclosure sale had been scheduled, according to Williamson County records, but was forestalled. Thomas Ovation LLC had loaned $27 million to buy its 78-acres in 2014, as reported previously. However none of the loan had been repaid, and it was past due. The company however received an extension on the repayment of that loan, allowing it to avoid the liquidation sale.

In July, Thomas claimed to have financing secured to let him repay the loan and move forward with his part of the project. An agreement was reached with the bankruptcy court in Atlanta, preventing proceeding and letting Thomas retain his role in the project.

Site work is slated to start in the fall on his portion, with construction in Spring.

A number of other investors are involved in the project: Highwoods Properties, in charge of developing the office space (Raleigh, N.C.) Bristol Development Group, developing the residential portion and SouthStar LLC (Franklin), which originally bought the site and sold portions off.

Highwoods, the owner of 68 acres on which it will develop all the office space, had big news in March, when it announced its anchor tenant would be Mars, which had been looking for a Cool Springs headquarters.

Mars, which employs more than 1,000 people already in the county, will build a $96 million, 224,000 square foot headquarters in two connected buildings with structured parking.

“For the last 11 years, we have called Franklin home and we’re excited about our new U.S. headquarters at Ovation, one of the largest planned mixed-use projects in Williamson County,” Renee Peets, vice president and executive project sponsor of Mars Petcare, said. “It’s an exciting project, ideally situated in a vibrant location, and will bring the best of ‘work, rest and play’ to our nearly 1,000 area Associates and their pets.”

Construction on the Mars buildings, being built on Highwoods’ 68-acres of the site, will begin in the fall with a targeted completion date of spring 2019.

Highwoods has allowances from the city of Franklin for all the site’s office space, and the Mars building will be the first of a four-to-five building business campus on 12.5 acres the developer is calling East End at Ovation.

“We are flattered Mars Petcare, a new customer for Highwoods, has chosen us to be their developer-landlord,” Ed Fritsch, president and chief executive officer of Highwoods, said. “We are thrilled by this opportunity to work with such a widely respected, internationally recognized and admired company and appreciate their confidence in our team and brand.”

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