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Gallatin sees increased retail demand

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James Fenton

Construction of a new commercial development along GreenLea Boulevard is expected to begin later this year and will bring with it much-needed retail and restaurant space to Gallatin along with a four-story hotel, according to the developer.

The Goodview Properties development will contain eight commercial lots on 18.75 acres at the intersection of GreenLea Boulevard and S.R. 386, according to recently approved plans for the project.

"There is just not enough food or service-driven stuff on the west side of Gallatin, which is where everybody is wanting to live," developer Paul Curd Jr. said about the need for the project. "The commercial side of things has not kept up with the pace. So, when we started running the demographics and seeing the growth, especially in that area of town... the timing just seemed to be right."

In all, there is 43,324 square feet of general retail, restaurant, business and commercial space planned for the property, according to plans submitted to the Gallatin Planning Department earlier this year. A four-story 112-unit hotel along with 12,000 square feet of high-end warehousing space and a 3,000-square-foot gas station are also planned at the site.

Developers plans to build the storage facility first along with one or two of the service-driven lease spaces.

"Right now there is no retail space available in this area and that's what we keep hearing," said Brad Jolly who is in charge of business development for the project. "We kind of hit the gambit (of uses), so that way we can make it just a central hub for that area."

Construction of the entire project is expected to take two to three years to complete, according to Curd. During that time, the appearance of the entire Green Lea corridor is expected to change due to all of the planned residential and commercial development in the area.

"The interest across the board has been through the roof," Curd said. "Based on the conversations that we're having with various food entities... I don't know that we'll be able to build this fast enough."

Gallatin's push for new retail

The Gallatin Economic Development Agency, which has traditionally been more focused on the city's new and existing industries, stepped up its retail recruitment efforts earlier this year by working with The Retail Coach, a national retail consulting, market research and development firm based in Mississippi.

The department attributes the increased retail interest in part to the approximately 3,500 new primary jobs announced in the city within the last five years, according to executive director James Fenton.

"When you hire a person to work in a factory another 2.2 people get hired in the community," Fenton said. "We've created a demand, and since there hasn't been a lot of new retail built, it's time for us to go ahead and take advantage of that."

The Goodview Properties site is one of 11 developments either planned or under construction in the city, which are listed on the retail section of the Gallatin EDA's website.

Officials hope the projects will help take advantage of $1.9 billion of retail leakage in the city's primary retail trade area, which has an estimated population of 128,754 people, according to the department. The leakage occurs when individuals shop in an area other than the one they live in.

"In order for us to go ahead and start attracting (new businesses) then we need to have locations for them to go," said Fenton. "There is a lot of opportunity here, so that's what we've got to start going for."

The retail area with the most revenue leakage is food service and drinking places, which have $195 million in lost revenue, according to data from the department. The two other areas with the most opportunity are clothing and accessories stores with $70 million of leakage and sporting goods stores with $56 million of leakage.

S.R. 109 corridor appearance expected to change

While most of the new retail growth is occurring on the western side of Gallatin closer to Hendersonville, city officials believe a S.R. 109 road widening project that is currently underway will also help attract new businesses to that area.

"Most of those businesses have been there a very long time and they have been valuable businesses, but I think you'll find that some of those proprieties will be purchased and something brand new is going to go in," said Rosemary Bates, special projects director for the city. "That will then give the city the ability to use its current design standards and its current requirements to basically give that corridor a face-lift."

The Tennessee Department of Transportation estimates the project, which includes 1.3 miles of roadway from north of the Cumberland River bridge to the intersection of Airport Road, will be completed by Aug. 31, 2019

The goal of the city's retail push, according to Fenton, is to let residents buy what they need locally without having to travel for it.

"If we can bring those companies in that sell things that our people want, then they will spend their money here," he said. "That will increase revenue for the city, which means we can turn back around and offer more services to our citizens."

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