November 25, 2007

New Spring Hill Community Announced

Echelon Development Coming to Spring Hill over next decade
A new traditional neighborhood development coming to Spring Hill will dramatically increase the number of residents there in the next 13 years and bring a live-work village to a growing suburban town.
The 3,400-unit development called Echelon will bring 10,000 residents to the exploding 25,000-resident community of Spring Hill by 2020, says Huntly Gordon, the attorney representing the developers, Rock Creek Development LLC.
The plan has almost completed the concept stage in Spring Hill's planning process and will enter the master development stage next.
Gordon says Echelon will bring the first major development to the east side of Interstate 65 in Spring Hill at Jim Warren Road.
Developers chose to build the development in a walkable neighborhood design after Spring Hill changed its zoning to allow for this mixed-use, dense type of development.
"I think the market will drive this type of development. It has been well-received so far. Three [in the area] already have done well," Gordon says. "Market forces will determine where people want to live."
Traditional neighborhood developments, or TNDs, have a town center with retail and living space in a dense core surrounded by houses. Homes in this style have porches and rear garages with alleys to create a sense of community.
Echelon will have a 30-acre commercial town center, with a city park and school connected to 2,100 single family homes, 200 live/work units, 436 condos and 600 townhomes.
After a different developer suggested the town add the zoning, developers of Echelon retooled their plan design to be a TND once the zoning became available.
Many communities don't have zoning that allows for villages such as Nashville's Lenox Village and Westhaven, Gordon says, making it difficult for developers to build this development style.
Gary Vogrin, principal at LandDesign, says few communities outside of Franklin and Metro Nashville offer the zoning needed for TNDs and suggests more communities look into adding it.
"It just comes down to a good, smart planning technique as opposed to urban sprawl," Vogrin says.
Echelon's developers traveled to North Carolina and Mississippi to study other neotraditional neighborhoods. "I hope it catches on here. It's an expensive endeavor," Gordon says. "Most dwellings are rear entry and there is quite a bit of design criteria. Done right [the TND] can be a very special amenity."
Developers for another Nashville area TND, Carothers Crossing, traveled to South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, St. Louis and the West Coast to get ideas for their community. Carothers Crossing is a 700-acre neotraditional neighborhood in Nolensville that will bring 3,400 units and 300,000 square feet of commercial space in 10 to 15 years.
Carothers has just started selling homes. Marketers there say a third of their potential buyers are people from out of state who have found them by searching Web sites such as that list TND communities.
"These potential homebuyers could not tell you on a map where we are and they don't care," says Sheri Hamilton, marketing director at Carothers Crossing. "A lot of these people already are enjoying a community like this somewhere else."
The upfront cost for roads, engineering and design is higher than a typical development, but Gordon says developers don't have to spend as much on marketing a TND because the concept sells itself.
"People will be drawn there," he says.
Developers at Echelon aim to build affordable homes in all price ranges. They plan to add a community lake and a street under the interstate to let residents ride their bikes to the YMCA and city parks.
"This is the first [TND[ in the city. I think there are a lot of people that are curious to see how it will do. I truly am. It's not going to be a short term project," Gordon says.
The Nashville Business Journal - November, 2008

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