Developers unveil $700M Cool Springs master plan – OVATION

By Geert De Lombaerde

Executives with development firms Highwoods Properties and SouthStar on Tuesday afternoon showcased their plans to develop about 90 acres of prime Cool Springs land into a mixed-use center called Ovation.

The project, which will rise in the southeast quadrant of the Carothers Parkway-McEwen Drive intersection, will include about 350,000 square feet of retail space, 1.4 million square feet of offices, a 300-room hotel and a still-unspecified number of for-sale and for-lease residential units. About 57 acres of the 147-acre tract will be maintained as green space. If they complete Ovation as planned, Highwoods, SouthStar and Bristol Development Group — which has been tapped to lead the apartment/condo work — will over time invest $700 million in the project.

Ed Fritsch, president and CEO of Highwoods, said Ovation will meet his firm’s goal of combining “a sophisticated blend of conservation and being able to grow the economy.” He pointed out that plans call for a strong sense of connectivity between the site’s live, work and play elements, letting shoppers, workers and residents transition easily from one sector to the other. (See below for some renderings; the development team’s website is here.)

The Ovation site — which has often been referred to as the Pickering property — sits across Carothers Parkway from the land where Vanderbilt University Medical Center is building a campus to house many of its Williamson County outpatient services. It is southeast of the prominent parcel on which Spectrum|Emery Properties has begun to develop its Franklin Park project, which will over time also bring to market more than 1 million square feet of office space.

The development consortium is working with Franklin officials to obtain the necessary approvals — some, including a height variance, already are in the bag — so that it can begin infrastructure work in a year. If things progress according to plan, Fritsch said Highwoods could break ground on the first office building in late 2014 with an eye toward delivering the space in mid-2016.

Fritsch added that, depending on the health of the office market, the buildings could range from 125,000 to 300,000 square feet and that Highwoods could be flexible in terms of pre-leasing requirements. When fully built out, Ovation’s offices will house between 5,500 and 6,000 workers.

“We’re not a group of shrinking violets,” Fritsch said of his firm, which has invested $338 million in more than 20 Middle Tennessee properties since 1996. “We have an experienced team.”

Ovation’s retail space will be built out all at once but the scope of its residential component is still being worked out.


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