Future project at Carothers homestead would include considerable green space, preservation
Members of the Franklin Municipal Planning Commission, aldermen and city staff are considering a development proposed for Cool Springs that would fit right in with similar places in the area — while also including a nod to the past.
An Ohio developer presented a plan last week to build apartments, a hotel, and office and retail space along Huffines Ridge near the intersection of Ovation Parkway and Carothers Parkway, but also designate part of the property as a 10-acre park that will consist of signage, trails, community gardens, and a restored 1930s home built by John Henry Carothers.
Jordan Goldberg, a third-generation developer from Cleveland whose family has built, owns and maintains 9,000 apartments in six states, said he was attracted to Franklin some time ago for his proposed multi-use development.
“We’ve been looking here for about five years at properties,” Goldberg said after the monthly informational meeting, adding that he also has properties in Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Texas.
“We just figured that Nashville was a good transition for us. [But] we’re not urban developers, we’re not downtown developers, and Nashville is really built heavily downtown. So we’ve been looking specifically in Franklin for over three years. We just got lucky with this land. We bid the most money and we got it.”
The plan calls for 170 hotel rooms, 426 apartments and a parking garage, each at six stories tall, and 147,774 square feet of office and retail space. The proposed site of the property is currently the old homestead of Carothers, a slave descendant, and includes the family’s house that was built from a kit in 1937 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places nearly 30 years ago.
The homestead is the last vestige of what came before the rapid development of Cool Springs, according to Rick Warwick, Williamson County historian.
The house is in bad shape, as are other structures on the former tobacco and wheat farm, and the proposal is to save the house and repurpose it for a community meeting room. Plans are also to use some of the wood from the decaying structures in construction of a maintenance shed on the property.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to give back and to still have a successful development,” Goldberg said. “Very seldom do you get that opportunity as a developer.”
Greg Gamble of Gamble Design Collaborative, which is working with Goldberg on this development, said there are also plans for hiking and mountain bike trails and an arboretum.
“There are lots of old trees that are in decay, dying or losing their branches,” he said, “and we’d like to use this area to plant some trees that would have been historic to a farmstead in the 1930s — pecan trees, black walnuts, poplars. We would be using it to tell a story about the property but also about Middle Tennessee and African Americans in Middle Tennessee.”
The proposal will next go before the Planning Commission at its Jan. 24 meeting, and must also be approved by the Franklin Board of Mayor and Alderman.
Discovery Center makes a pitch
Attendees at last Thursday’s workshop were also formally presented with plans for the construction of a Discovery Center on South Carothers Road and adjacent to a proposed Franklin city park. It would be modeled after the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring in Murfreesboro, and museum associates are asking the city of Franklin to rezone the current Lockwood Glen PUD to neighborhood commercial.
“This is an educational use, an institutional use,” said Gamble, who is also collaborating with the Discovery Center. “It fits within Envision Franklin for those reasons.
“The reason we’re asking for a rezoning is because of the additional cost and time associated with the development plan. The Discovery Center needs to make some decisions very quickly. They’d like to close on this property very quickly, start their fundraising and build the facility.”
Tara MacDougal, CEO of the Discovery Center, said a location in Franklin would benefit the city in a number of ways. The one in Murfreesboro, for instance, hosts field trips from schools from 18-20 counties in the Midstate. It would also be attractive for local families seeking activities.
“It is a tourism draw as well,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons it is really attractive to Ellie (Westman Chin, president and CEO of the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau) and her team. You have everything here in Franklin, but I think a shortage is what [visiting] families can do together. This is a great tourism feature to bring families together.”