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Iron Horse begins construction, brings residential option to northeastern gateway of Franklin

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The Retreat at Iron Horse

A rendering of The Retreat at Iron Horse development

Developer Brad Knolle, executive vice president of Embrey, recently visited the construction site of The Retreat at Iron Horse, a luxury multi-unit development located at the corner of Mack Hatcher on the north and Franklin Road on the east.

Some passersby might have noticed that construction has begun to sprout on the landscape. 

Looking out at the landscape, Knolle said he feels the development will do ample justice to the important intersection that some call a gateway of Franklin. 

Franklin Road leads to The Factory at Franklin, The Park at Harlinsdale and eventually to the center of historic downtown. The corridor depicts the city’s rich history with the preservation of The Factory, its equine heritage with The Park at Harlinsdale and the longtime Meadows family farm located directly across the street from the development. 

Some might argue that the intersection is where Franklin’s rural character meets urban growth, especially as it connects to the rich business atmosphere in Cool Springs.

With rural and urban characteristics in mind, Iron Horse provides a residential option, “rentals by choice,” according to Knolle, for those who enjoy the pastoral landscape but also like keeping rhythm with the heartbeat of growing Franklin. 

“We wanted to do something that lived and breathed Franklin,” Knolle said.

“We knew we were going into the gateway of Franklin and the design needed to reflect that.”

“This property sits along one of Franklin’s prominent view-sheds leading into the city,” Vernon Gerth, assistant city administrator, said. 

“The property has sat undeveloped for many years and while there have been multiple inquiries on the property, the Iron Horse Development and the Embrey Partners team was willing to go through an extensive community-engaged process and worked with city staff to ensure their proposal was one that the city could stand behind. 

“We have every expectation that this residential development, upon completion, will uphold the character and prominence of its location along this important corridor.” 

Knolle said he wanted to stay true to the equine and farm roots of Franklin first, while also respecting its historical character.

Located at 145 Legends Club Lane, Iron Horse will feature 270 luxury apartment units in 12 two-and three-story buildings, with each building featuring a “Big House Style,” or historic farm house-style, with wrap around porches and balconies and wooden plantation shutters. The buildings will also be equipped with an elevator and have attached garages, and the property will offer 12-foot wide sidewalks from Legends Club Lane to Mack Hatcher. 

“It’s timeless architecture,” Knolle said.

A clubhouse will offer such amenities as a pool, fitness facility, space for classes like yoga, and an outdoor grilling area. Building materials will consist of a mix of stone and masonry siding materials and mesh metal railing.

The development’s name, Iron Horse, also gives a nod to the nickname of classic steam locomotives in acknowledgement of the railroad tracks that run close to the site. 

The style and architecture drew from the surrounding area and historically significant buildings, including dwellings in the area that were built in the early 19th century and possess Federal and Greek Revival architecture.

“The buildings are custom-designed. Each building is unique. No building is identical,” Knolle said.

Knolle said the Meadows property across the street and Harlinsdale farm inspired the farmhouse look and feel but provides modern amenities. 

Knolle also emphasized that the development brings a new housing option to the area. 

“It provides a housing opportunity that’s needed,” Knolle added.

“Some seniors want to downsize and this gives them an opportunity to do that, and it provides Franklin professionals with a place to live close to where they work.”

The property, which sits on 19.99 acres, was previously zoned for Scientific Research Zoning Overlay to make way for a proton cancer therapy center (now located on Carothers Parkway), but was eventually rezoned for residential use by the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Embrey has also developed Artessa Luxury apartment homes in Cool Springs. 

Road improvements 

The development will also bring much-needed road improvements to the bustling corridor of Franklin Road that draws an influx of traffic to and from the city each day. 

The developer will install a traffic light at Franklin Road and Legends Club Lane, a left turn lane on Franklin Road onto Legends Club Lane and a 12-ft. greenway trail connecting to Mack Hatcher. The traffic light Knolle said will also benefit members of adjacent entities First Presbyterian Church and members of Vanderbilt Legends Club. 

Further east, the developer will also construct a 550-foot right turn lane at Franklin Road and Mallory Station. A traffic study was completed by Embrey, while the city had an independent company review and confirm the study. 

“We are interested in being in Williamson County long-term and doing it the right way,” Knolle said. “We want to invest in the infrastructure that will aid traffic flow along the roadway for the future.”

Knolle also noted that a residential development brings less traffic than an office building or another commercial use structure. 

The first building in the development is projected for completion in December. The full project is projected for completion the third quarter of 2019.  

(2) comments

Bob Marsh

“We have every expectation that this residential development, upon completion, will uphold the character and prominence of its location along this important corridor.”

Please don't insult us with your silly prattle about upholding the character of Franklin. Your just another money grubbing developer looking for a fast buck. What you are upholding is more infrastructure expense , traffic , noise and growth problems in general.


If the buildings will be tall, then elevators are necessary. Elevators are the most common way to provide access in multistory buildings and a professional elevator company in DC can install one very fast. But if the building is less than three stories, an elevator is not required. The downside of this aspect is that old people will have to walk up and down two or three floors.

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