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Former Streets of Brentwood project ends in land sale

H.G. Hill Realty buys out GBT, restarts planning

Jun 21, 2013 |  By Bonnie Burch | The Tennessean

BRENTWOOD — H.G. Hill Realty Co. is now the sole owner of the former Murray Ohio headquarters property.
The developer has bought out GBT Realty Corp.’s interests in the 11-acre site on Franklin Road just south of the Maryland Way intersection for $1.4 million, according to property transfer documents.
Soon, H.G. Hill “will begin planning for the future of the site. H.G. Hill Realty owns the adjacent shopping center and is excited to enhance its investment in Brentwood,” said Jimmy Granbery, CEO of H.G. Hill Realty Co.
At the moment, the property is zoned to support offices only.
In February 2011, the two real estate developers launched a joint effort to purchase the land and the long-vacant 100,000-square-foot Murray Ohio building for $9.6 million. The structure was demolished.
In October 2012, developers revealed plans to build a 970,000-square-foot development there and at the adjacent Tennessee Baptist Convention Center property that would include a mix of offices, condominium units, a hotel, retail, restaurants and a CineBistro movie theater. Known as the Streets of Brentwood, the project would require C-4 Town Center zoning.
But in February H.G. Hill and GBT withdrew their rezoning request, citing building constraints and community opposition to the plan.
A grass-roots group called Preserve Brentwood organized to oppose the project.
The group raised concerns about everything from an increase in traffic to possible crime to overburdening the county school system with additional students.
The developers, who wanted to buy the Tennessee Baptist Convention property for $9 million including the original structure and the conference center added in 1989 along with 5.25 acres of land, did not close on the deal.
A final vote on whether to place a year-long moratorium on C-4 zoning requests made by developers for projects outside the traditional Town Center district is expected to come before the Brentwood City Commission on Tuesday.

you may read the article on The Tennessean website here:


 

TN Baptist Convention back on market for $9.5m


TN Baptist Convention back on market for $9.5m | Tennessee Baptist Convention,Brentwood TN news,Brentwood Home Page,BHP

The Tennessee Baptist Convention is on the market for $9.5 million. The 5.25-acre property is situated on the corner of Maryland Way and Franklin Road.

“This property sits on one of the best corners in Brentwood,” said Axson West of Southeast Venture who is selling the property.

West said he believes the asking price is reasonable; the existing 88,000-square-foot building that houses the TBC comes out to be approximately $108 per square foot.

“Someone who wanted to come in and build a new structure on that property couldn’t do it for under $220 per square foot,” West told BHP.

An off-market purchase option announced in May 2012 for $9 million expired in February. Franklin Land Associates LLC, a GBT Realty subsidiary, let the option go after the mixed-use Streets of Brentwood project that included the TBC property as well as 11 adjacent acres was shelved by developers who had initially sought to have the properties rezoned from C1-commerical office to C4-Town Center.

“The $9 million was part of a negotiation and like most deals had contingencies,” TBC’s executive director Randy Davis said. “We feel like $9.5 million is a good value for the property.”

After interviewing several commercial brokers, the TBC went with Southeast Venture, a Nashville-based real estate, design and development company.

Davis said what’s next for the TBC depends on the sale of the current property.

“Our current building is far more space than we need,” Davis said. “If we cannot sell the building at our asking price, we’ll stay here and lease out office space. It’s a win-win for us.”

West said there has already been interest in the new listing, which includes a 40-year-old building. He declined to name them, however. He added that he does not believe the city’s recent moratorium on properties like this being rezoned C4-Town Center will be an issue.

“We’ve certainly made known the current moratorium and I don’t think it is affecting interested parties,” West said. “You’ve already got fantastic places surrounding the property.”

The property is currently zoned C1, commercial office, but could request a change to C2 zoning if the new party was interested.

Richel Albright is a reporter with Brentwood Home Page. She can be contacted at richel@brentwoodhomepage.com or you can follow her on Twitter @rwalbright




 

February 25, 2013, was supposed to be the City Commission's FINAL reading and vote for The Streets of Brentwood project.  Instead, the developer withdrew the plans after revising them and presenting the revised plans to each Commissioner individually just before the voting day.  Below is a synopsis of the Commissioners' comments made about Streets of Brentwood at the regularly scheduled Commission meeting.

City leaders speak out on Streets of Brentwood


With the constraints of a rezoning vote off of their shoulders, Brentwood City Commission members took the opportunity to share their first public thoughts on the withdrawn Streets of Brentwood mixed-use development plan at the commission’s Monday night meeting.

A second and final vote on the requested rezoning of 17 acres of prime commercial property from C-1 (Commercial Office) to C-4/SR (Town Center with Special Restrictions) was long expected to be on the Feb. 25 agenda. Public outcry among other issues led the developers, H.G. Hill Realty and GBT, to withdraw the request on Feb. 15.

A handful of citizens, at least one newly engaged in city politics, also spoke out on issues related to the now-defunct proposal, specifically the future of the city’s C-4 (Town Center commercial) zoning classification.

The commissioners speak

Commissioner Betsy Crossley spoke from a prepared, multi-page statement that served as both an explanation of the rezoning process and a lesson in civics, citizenship and civility. She told the audience, which was significantly larger than usual, that the process had worked and that she appreciated that so many citizens had the “courage and patience” to work together and get involved.

She pointed out that the rezoning was the first true mixed-use development plan to come to the city under amended C-4 zoning requirements and that everyone involved had grown through the process.

Crossley chided many of those who were against the rezoning, however, for the condemnation of the developers who brought the plan and development in general.

“While many might characterize the (development) industry as opportunistic, in reality, none of us would have the very homes we live in had there not been a developer willing to invest in Brentwood.  We would not have Kroger, Brenthaven, nor Maryland Farms.  We would not have the office buildings that house thousands of jobs nor the many corporate headquarters we have here,” she said.

“Whether you like developers or not, they are part of the reason Brentwood is now  a great place to live, and I might add, many of them are our citizens and your neighbors.

Crossley also spoke out against the “innuendo” and accusations of malfeasance made against the commission.

 “The ethics of the members of this board of commissioners have been questioned.  While I can agree that there are elected officials in office today throughout our nation whom many of us consider less than diligent, less than well informed or less than ethical, that is not the case with this group of public servants…

“While opinions on various issues may differ between our members, you will find that a singular purpose of making Brentwood, Tenn. the best city possible for her constituents -- and that purpose being carried out with integrity -- is a hallmark of each member of this board of commissioners.”

The second-term commissioner gave the first public description of a revised concept plan shared individually by the Streets of Brentwood’s development team with city commissioners the week prior to the plan’s withdrawal.

The revised plan featured a total of 750,000 square feet -- a 200,000-square foot reduction from the original. It had only one residential building that backed up to Maryland Way Park. The office buildings were reduced in size, as was the proposed cinema. There was a substantial increase in the space allocated to retail development.

“Beyond this reduction in density, this reduced plan included the originally proposed infrastructure changes,” Crossley said, “including the new street connecting Eastpark and Chadwick, retail along Franklin and within the interior of the complex, and office buildings facing Maryland Way.

“With the same infrastructure changes and less density, the resulting traffic impact would have also been substantially less than the plan most of you are familiar with.”

She shared that she believed there were still issues to be resolved, she was extremely disappointed to have come so close to publicly considering “a more reasonable, substantially reduced proposal that was very much like what I have heard so many of you say Brentwood needs” only to have it never “reach the point of public consideration”

Crossley’s 18-minute address ended with this: “It is my hope -- and prayer, honestly -- that we continue to have meaningful discussions between this board,  citizens and our commercial partners regarding the future impact of redevelopment in our northern business district, our Town Center.”

Crossley’s statement can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

Going forward together

Commissioner Regina Smithson said the most important thing she has taken away from the past few months is the need to revisit C-4, particularly the amendments that were made in 2010 that expanded the Town Center district’s potential footprint, increased allowed density and made part of it contiguous with residential properties.

Now, she said, the most important thing “is to talk about what we’re going to do moving forward.” Smithson has suggested the city host a public workshop that will bring all interested parties to the table to learn about what’s currently allowed under C-4 zoning and to gather ideas on how it might be improved.

Smithson also read a statement she sent to Brentwood Home Page following the withdrawal that has not yet been published:

“The proposed development for The Streets of Brentwood has been very difficult for everyone involved.   I respect the decision by the developer to pull this project due to ‘financial’ risk.  The number of citizens involved has been tremendous and included people in neighborhoods all around the city.

“The concerns seemed to focus on the ‘rentals’/apartments/condos, additional school enrollment, density and of course, the traffic a project of this magnitude would bring. I share those same concerns and believe it is time to revisit the C-4 Zoning (Mixed Use) Ordinance and the area that could possibly be rezoned to C-4. 

“I would like to thank everyone who contacted me whether for or against TSOB project. I have served on the Brentwood City Commission 22 years and have found citizens involvement to be the key element of our great city.” 

Playing by the rules

As the commission’s representative on the city’s planning commission, Rhea Little heard an additional presentation and cast an additional vote concerning Streets of Brentwood. In December, a majority of the planning commission voted to recommend that the city commission approve the rezoning request and concept plan, though it did recommend that the density be reduced by 50,000 square feet.

Of his vote at the Planning Commission, which some have criticized, Little explained that by law the Planning Commission’s charge is to determine if a project brought before it meets the technical standards of the city.

He used an analogy of a Little League umpire who can’t change the rules in the fifth inning of a baseball game. “I have to decide on the game on the rules when the game started,” he said, which in this case were the C-4 zoning standards as they are now stated.

In response to a citizen who spoke out Monday against aspects of C-4 then admitted he had lived in the city since 1992 but had never voted in a municipal election, Little gave an update on Brentwood resident Charlie Carr. Carr, a member of the US Army’s 510th Combat Engineer Clearance Company, just returned from a tour in Afghanistan.

“They do that so we have the right to vote,” Little said. “Many, many people have paid a high price for that right. We make it easy to vote,” he said, citing early voting opportunities in addition to Election Days. He called voting “a blessing I think we too often take for granted.”   

Everyone can’t be the ‘last one in’

First-term commissioner Jill Burgin noted that a wise mentor had recently told her, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

The city’s population has grown by 50 percent since 2000, she said, “because of our greatness. People don’t just end up here.”

She cited projections that the greater Nashville Metropolitan Area is expected to grow by a million people in the next 25 years “and a great many of them will look at Brentwood.” But she many people want to “close the gate” after they get here.

Burgin shared a story about one of the hundreds of emails she received in response to the rezoning proposal. It was sent from a citizen complaining about the city’s growth. She wrote Burgin that the meadow with a beautiful rolling hill behind her Brentwood home was being turned into “spec home hell.”

Burgin said she checked the address of the author to see what new development she was talking about. What she discovered is that the writer lives in a subdivision that’s less than 5 years old, one built on property that just a few years ago provided those who came before their own views of rolling hills.

“The truth is, we can’t all be the ‘last one in,’” she said.

The process that ultimately ended in the Streets of Brentwood plan being withdrawn gave all a “clear vision of what is allowed under C-4,” Burgin continued. “Now that we know what we’re dealing with,” the city has an opportunity to review it.

No evil in this

Anne Dunn has survived many rezoning conflicts in her long tenure on the city commission. If there’s one thing she’s learned, she said, it’s that even when people disagree, “it doesn’t make anyone evil.

“If you find you are in disagreement with a project, it’s not the person bringing the project, it’s the project.”

As to the C-4 zoning as it stands today, “maybe we abandon it, maybe we fix it.” The important thing is to deal with it, she said.
Dunn acknowledged and thanked all who had shared their opinions with her over the course of the process and invited all to be a part of the continuing conversations about Town Center’s future. The two issues she heard over and over, she said, were an “unequivocal” lack of support for any rental residential units and a desire on the part of residential neighbors that they have some protection “so they’re not inundated with retail.”

High risk, high reward

Vice Mayor Rod Freeman spoke primarily on two points, first the Brentwood 2020 Plan and second, the message sent to the developers who brought the Streets project to the city and the message future developers will hear.

Of the 2020 Plan -- the city’s guidebook to growth, Freeman said it had been brought up several times in public and private conversations. The plan contains multiple surveys that reflect opinions regarding mixed-use development, residential density and other topics.

 “The thing is, you have to read it in its entirety,” he said of the 2020 Plan, noting that throughout the document and its 2006 update, a lot of information contradicts itself if taken out of context.

As for the city’s message about what it wants in a Town Center district and its desire for a small downtown, Freeman said Brentwood needs to come to grips with the intent of C-4 zoning standards so it can send a clear message to developers about “what the city desires and where it desires it.”

Freeman echoed Crossley’s disappointment that citizens did not have  the opportunity to see what the revised plan looked like.

In the end, Freeman said he felt the developers pulled the project because they “felt like going forward they didn’t have the support of this board with the residential.”

The city needs developers willing “to take risks on our behalf. With high risks comes high rewards; low risk, low rewards,” Freeman said. But “going forward we need to communicate clearly … We can’t tell them one thing then do another.”

Strict rules, strict processes

“We have done the process,” said Mayor Paul Webb, speaking last. “We have strict rules and we follow the process. We treat everybody the same.

 “The process has worked,” he stated.

Citizens continue the conversation

Prior to individual commissioners’ reports, several citizens accepted the invitation to address the board. Among them were Gerald Richter (note from Preserve Brentwood: is actually Gerald Witcher), who read an open letter to the commission.

During the rezoning process, Richter had voiced specific concerns about an increase in violent crime if the Streets concept plan and its high-density residential units had been approved. On Monday he reiterated many of the issues opponents’ have voiced over the past few months in anticipation of future plans coming before the board.

“The majority of residents in Brentwood are opposed to any and all forms of mixed-use, high-density housing,” he read. “It is a direct assault on the principles and benefits of one acre per home zoning restrictions.  High density housing results in additional traffic congestion, overcrowding of our schools and increased violent crime.

“Residents of this community pay a premium price to live here and you have no higher obligation as commissioners than to protect our quality of life.  It is time to either eliminate C4 zoning completely or modify ordinances in a way which stops developers from building more high density housing in Brentwood.

“This matter is urgent to voters and it requires your immediate and undivided attention.”

Richter’s letter can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

Also addressing the commission was Brentwood native Devin McClendon. He shared he had lived through several rezoning requests over the past decades, almost all of which came with threats of increased traffic, crime and impact on schools.

Specifically, he talked about Foxboro Square, one of the few condominium projects approved in the city, and Landmark, a unique development near Maryland Farms that features single family homes on lots much smaller than the one-acre average.

“Neither one of those developments have caused the downfall of our community,” McClendon said. “We’re still here and we’re still a strong, vibrant community.”