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Proposed mixed-use development Carothers Crossing West adds another urban dimension to Cool Springs

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Carothers Crossing West

A new mixed-use “smart-growth” development, Carothers Crossing West, has been proposed for the northwest quadrant of Carothers Parkway and Liberty Pike that would bring enhanced urban life to Cool Springs, offering apartments aimed at professionals and retail, commercial, and office space as well as outlets for connectivity.

Residents could have the option to walk to work or the store, consultant Greg Gamble said.

The development is “just a piece of a larger master plan,” Gamble explained to city officials at the joint Franklin Planning Commission and Board of Mayor and Alderman monthly meeting Thursday as part of the “regional commerce” area as laid out in Envision Franklin.

The Cool Springs Carothers corridor has become a hotbed for mixed-use development with similar developments under construction or proposed for construction, including Ovation, a $700 million mixed-use development located in the northeast; McEwen Town Center; Franklin Park; and Resource Centre, a proposed large-scale mixed-used development at Carothers and McEwen – all within a mile radius.

Along the Liberty Pike corridor also lies Columbia State Community College Williamson Campus, while Nissan, Jackson National, and Schneider Electric are located along Carothers, representing just a few of the county’s major headquarters.

Gamble made the case for the need to construct Carothers Crossing, which would accommodate business professionals who desire connectivity such as walking to work or working from home in an apartment-style home office.

The development would consist of seven buildings composed of 332 residential apartment units contained in four buildings, including ground floor home/office units; a two-story commercial building; and two one-story commercial buildings, with a total of 67,330 square feet of commercial space.

He even said that the Franklin Transit Authority (FTA) is conducting a trolley circuit study that could bring such a mode of transportation to the area to provide connectivity.

“[Architects of the study said] we need more residential to support that trolley system,” Gamble said. “We are really starting to see some exciting mixed-use areas that are working such as Emblem, McEwen Town Center, Dwell … Jackson National and Venue.

“If you go to [Cool Springs Carothers] at 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m., you will see 60 to 70 people walking to work. That’s the kind of activity we want to see in Cool Springs. We want to encourage more walking to work and shorter trips to the office.”

Gamble acknowledged that BOMA has decided that they want to see density in Berry Farms and along Carothers and commercial intensity.

For years, local officials have been talking about ways to reduce traffic in Williamson County, where congestion is especially apparent during lunch time and morning and afternoon rush hours.

A few years ago, Williamson Inc. organized “Mobility Week, ” which encouraged businesses to participate in transportation solutions aside from building more roads such as walking to work and lunch and allowing employees flexible hours and days to work from home.

Some say building more roads is not the solution to traffic.

Alderman Bev Burger, 1st Ward, who was present at the joint meeting, has been a vocal proponent of ways to reduce traffic such as park and ride lots and other modes of connectivity in Cool Springs, where business booms.   

In 2015, the TMA completed a study showing a need for light rail in the Cool Springs area in the next 20 years as population and business continues to grow along the Carothers, McEwen and Interstate 65 corridors.

Gamble cited a few statistics about Franklin and the business population, showing that the influx of professionals need a place to work, live and shop in one place, with more living choices than Franklin’s abundant single-family home community.

The statistics show more housing could attract more worker to live in Franklin

According to the statistics by Williamson Inc. read by Gamble, over the past five years Franklin’s population has grown from 78,000 in 2015 to 79,456 in 2018.

“Of those 78,000 [in 2015], 32,000 people were employed somewhere and of those, only 10,000 worked in Franklin,” Gamble said.

“Those are Franklin residents that don’t leave … so in 2015, Franklin had a total of 69,000 jobs. That means 59,000 people are coming in from somewhere else to work in Franklin.”

Also, 16,000 new workers are projected to enter Franklin’s workforce by 2025, Gamble added.

To retain workers and connectivity in Franklin, mixed-use developments like Carothers Crossing could create an outlet for business professionals to live, work and play.

Further statistics show that Franklin’s median income is $91,000 (Williamson Inc. Trends Report); average home price is $587,000 (Williamson County Association of Realtors); and the median home price in Franklin is approximately $499,000 (WCAR).

Gamble said Franklin home prices are 69 percent higher than the national average.

“These numbers are continuing to rise at a staggering pace as home prices continue to rise,” Gamble said. “Much of that is being brought about by job growth and demand in Franklin.”

In keeping with the rising market, further statistics show that Carothers Crossings apartments would attract higher-end workers, who make at least $50,000 to $60,000 a year, Gamble further explained.

Development won’t impact schools

One thing, however, the development would not bring, Gamble said, is more students in Williamson County Schools, which he said is a positive thing. Just last week, WCS Director of Schools Mike Looney announced that the school district had finally crossed the threshold of over 40,000 students at the rate of enrolling a little more than 1,000 new students a year. The toll of overcrowded schools and a capital projection of $428 million over the next five years to build 12 new schools led to the community approving a sales tax increase of .5 percent to create revenue for new school buildings.

The aldermen seemed to like the idea that development would not impact schools.

Gamble explained that with the absence of three-bedroom apartments in the development plan, the residential offerings would attract business professionals, couples and retirees rather than school-aged families. Statistics show that three-bedroom units bring more families with children than units with fewer bedrooms.

However, Gamble also outlined how Carothers Crossing, if approved, would pull its weight in paying for infrastructure, even new schools, parks and roads in Franklin through county and city fees.

Due to the city’s implementation of development fees dedicated to roads and parks, Carothers Crossing will be no exception in the city’s collection of these newly implemented fees.

According to Gamble, estimates show contributions of over $938,000 in county school impact fees; $1 million in city parkland dedication fees; and $2.4 million toward city collector road and arterial road impact fees.

“This development is paying for development in Franklin,” Gamble said.

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