Ovation Cool SpringsOvation is a nearly $1 billion mixed-use development in Cool Springs. Nestled at the corner of Carothers Parkway and McEwen Drive, it is one of the last pieces of undeveloped land along the so-called Cool Springs corridor. That is, the land along I-65 between Carothers Parkway and Mallory Lane, for the most part, but more narrowly just between Carothers and I-65.

Ovation’s plan envisions 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.

In essence it aims to create an urban environment to live, work and play within the suburban Cool Springs.

The first phase of construction is underway, with the 392-apartment Uptown at Ovation complex, aimed at young professionals. A lot of dirt has been moving lately on the Uptown apartments.

There are a slew of developers working on Ovation, including: Highwoods Properties [office] (Raleigh, N.C.); Thomas Enterprises [retail] (Atlanta); Bristol Development Group [multifamily] (Franklin); SouthStar LLC (Franklin). Although SouthStar started the ball rolling it has recently been selling off its interests- basically saying the size and scope of the development grew beyond its grasp.

First, Thomas Enterprises bought 35 acres, for residential and retail and restaurant construction, then in April SouthStar sold the last of its property to Bristol Development Group, who will also build some of the residential units. They paid $30.9 million for it.

Thomas will be building the 80,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment venues, along with the two planned hotels.

Two confirmed retail tenants include Pinstripes, which signed a 15-year lease, and Kinnucan’s, a specialty outfitter based in Alabama.

Developers are working on cementing construction loans and full-scale building is starting this summer.


Highwoods, the region’s largest office developer with some 3.4 million square feet, will build and lease all the office space.  They paid $15 million for their 68 acres of the 145 acre site- two-thirds of which will be developed.

Currently, they are finishing moving dirt, readying for construction of the tower and other office buildings.

“We are wrapping up the infrastructure, the mass grading for infrastructure of the whole thing,” said Brian Reames, senior vice president for Highwoods. “We are working on continuing the process of designing the office building that will go on the portion that we own. We are active in that design phase and we are making proposals when we are getting requests for proposals.

“We are at a point finally where we can make proposals- where we had to get through 18 months of infrastructure, land-grading and road building.”

The process cost more than $20 million. The Cool Springs area currently has an office vacancy rate of about 0.8 percent. Office space, accordingly, is going for about $35 a foot in Franklin Park, the Spectrum development across the street from Ovation. Currently, they are working on building the second tower, 12 stories, at that site.

The Highwoods tower at Ovation will be just as tall.

“We have worked on design on the east end and the signature tower,” Reames said.

Reames said it might be called the signature building, but is far from the only office space Highwoods will put up there. It might not even be the first thing they build.

“We may start on the west end of the site, that is a little more isolated, more adjacent to the park and everything that exists there just outside the ring road,” Reames said. “We are working on specific building designs, and actively pursuing requests for proposals. But we are looking at it both ways- if someone wants to go in today and start in back, someone else might be more apt to choose the front.”

It really depends, Reames said, on what prospective tenants need or want.

“We are going to build as demand warrants- and we have not committed to build a speculative building yet, so right now we are just responding to proposals for lead tenants, or build to suit projects,” he said.

If a tenant expresses interest, Highwoods tells them based on their plans when the building could be ready. As for the earliest possible time Highwoods could complete construction on a building,  it looks like another year or so.

“We do not have a master timeline, but at this point if we are able to sign a lease we will be able to deliver a building by 2018,” Reames said.

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