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Planning Commission sees surge in development requests

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Throughout the next several months, Murfreesboro residents will witness a spur of economic development similar to pre-recession levels.

The Murfreesboro Planning Commission was greeted with a three-page agenda for its 1 p.m. Wednesday meeting. Results of the meeting were unavailable by press time; however, Murfreesboro Planning Director Joseph Aydelott discussed the implications of the surge in development.

“This week’s Planning Commission agenda is indeed one of the largest we’ve had since 2009,” Aydelott said. “I think it’s a sign of things to come. Judging from the level of activity we’ve gotten in terms of phone calls (and) visitors to the office working on plans, we seem to be seeing signs of economic awakening that haven’t been visible for some time.”

He added, “Judging from conversations I have with engineers and planners … it looks like we’re going to have quite a bit of business activity for the next several months.”

The agenda proved quite diverse in its laundry list of proposals. Perhaps most impressive is Henley Station at the Gateway, a lifestyles community with more than 400 dwelling units on some 20 acres located along Robert Rose Drive and Medical Center Parkway.

Calling it “one of the nicer complexes in this region,” Aydelott said the lifestyles community will feature several social amenities for its residents.

According to staff comments attached to the agenda, this is a final design review for a new multi-family development and restaurant. The plan calls for 128 one-bedroom and 275 two-bedroom units, a 3,600-square-foot workout facility and 2,000 square feet of office space. Additionally, a 4,800 square-foot restaurant and pub will be on-site and open to the public.

While located not far from the Gateway Village, a Swanson development located along North Thompson Lane, the new project is not nearly the same.

“These are two different markets,” Aydelott explained. “The Swanson development is upper-end and has an appeal that’s quite different from this (lifestyles) complex.”

Nearby Culver’s was the last project to be completed along Medical Center Parkway; the restaurant is approaching its two-year anniversary. But owners Joe and Delores Klingenmeyer said they have decided its time to expand the Culver’s chain in Murfreesboro.

They have submitted a site plan for a 4,365-square-foot restaurant to be located at the corner of Mercury and South Rutherford Boulevard, near Jet’s Pizza and Mellow Mushroom.

“Restaurant No. 1 has done very well. Murfreesboro has been very good to us,” Joe Klingenmeyer said. “Given the population of Murfreesboro, we decided it could support two Culver’s, and we wanted to get one over closer to campus.”

Slightly larger in size, the second restaurant is designed to have slightly different architectural features along with more colorful landscaping.

Klingenmeyer said he has confidence in Middle Tennessee’s economy.

“And I’ve been given the green light by Culver’s corporate,” he said. “If I wasn’t operating at the level I’m operating at now (with store No. 1), they would never have approved a second one.”

Construction is slated to begin in early-August with an anticipated opening date of Dec. 7, he said.

Also on the agenda is The Mulch Company, a 1,000-square-foot lawn and garden center along Agripark Drive, the relocation of Southwest Regional Pumping Station from its home near Old Fort Park to West Main Street, The Pointe at Eastdale, a site plan for 60 multi-family units and a site plan for Dollar General to open a 9,100-square-foot store at Lasseter Drive.

Express Oil proposed a site plan for motor vehicle sales along South Church Street, along with Smitty’s Auto Parts, which would like to locate a 24,000-square-foot retail and wholesale building west of Molloy Lane.

Four zoning applications were also on the agenda, including proposals for 26 acres along Memorial Boulevard and 47 acres along South Rutherford Boulevard, the latter of which is also requesting annexation.

Despite a lengthy agenda and foreseeable activity in the near future, Aydelott says the Planning Commission is not yet ready to resume a schedule of three meetings per month. Several years ago when the city began feeling the effects of the recession, the Planning Commission voted to hold only two meetings per month.

“We’re still far enough away from having three meetings per month,” Aydelott said. “If we were seeing a lot of Gateway Design Overlay and rezonings, we probably would, but we’re not there yet.”

He also pointed out his staff of four planners would be hard-pressed to take on additional workload, given that Shannon Logan’s position was not filled when she accepted a new title in the city manager’s department in October 2011.
Read more from:
Business, City Council, Economy, Joseph Aydelott, Murfreesboro, Planning Commission, Real Estate, Rutherford County
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Members Opinions:
June 24, 2012 at 8:20am
In my opinion the Planners need to rethink the design and materials restrictions used in the Medical Ctr. district. As I drive down the Parkway toward the Med Ctr. my thought is that the buildings are very boring and generic. The building across from the DePaul building with its turrets looks like a state mental institution (circa 1939) and with five signs drapped over the railings it replicates "laundry day". Does this "signage" meet our sign ordinance?
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