August 03, 2015

Mammoth Berry Farms Project Underway

By Linda Bryant
– Nashville Business Journal –

Boyle Investment Co. has begun work on Phase I of Berry Farms, a mammoth mixed-use development in Williamson County about five minutes from Cool Springs.

The project is expected to take 10-plus years to finish. When completed, Berry Farms is expected to include 3.5 million square feet of office space, 1,100 residences and 1.6 million square feet of retail.

The 602-acre, master-planned community is structured to house everything from corporate headquarters and Class-A office space to high density housing and retail. It will have "a huge impact," says Tom Miller, former Franklin mayor and vice president of Coldwell Banker Commercial in Brentwood.

"It’s not just another Cool Springs, it’s the next generation of Cool Springs," Miller says.

Berry Farms Town Center, the official name of the first phase, will be built on a 233-acre parcel in the Goose Creek area west of Interstate 65.

Boyle is starting the first phase with nine retail lots, 95 single-family homes and 62 townhomes, which will eventually be followed by about 1 million square feet of offices and retail and more residential, says Shelby Larkin, marketing director of Boyle Nashville.

"We’re working with a range of options" for the timing and sequence of construction, Larkin says.

Berry Farms has been in the development stage for more than three years. An extensive planning and approval process was required by the City of Franklin and issues with sewer and water infrastructure have taken longer than expected.

Larkin says Boyle prefers to work more expediently, but the size and scale of Berry Farms resulted in a longer process.

The project is a joint venture between Boyle and the Berry family. The Berrys have owned the land where Berry Farms is located for 200 years.

Boyle, a Memphis-based company with a full-service office in Williamson County, has developed several mixed-use projects including Schilling Farms, a master-planned community near Memphis.

Schilling Farms successfully lured several corporate headquarters, office and retail projects and residents attracted by the neo-traditional neighborhood housing.

Boyle also headed up the Meridian Cool Springs development. Meridian houses two three-story story Class-A office buildings, the headquarters for Community Health Systems, the headquarters for the Podiatry Insurance Company of America and some retail stores and restaurants.

The projected buildout for the Meridian project was eight years, but it was completed in two and half years, Larkin says.

Retail and restaurants such as Noshville and the upcoming Boscos and Woodhouse Day Spa at the Meridian project have been received enthusiastically, a factor Larkin says speaks well for how strong the Cool Springs retail market is.

The company is in negotiations with tenants, and Larkin hints that new announcements won’t be far off.

Miller says he thinks Berry Farms will reach the halfway mark in about five years and will bring with it several corporate headquarters, small- and mid-sized retailers, restaurant projects and new residents.

Larkin says she’s fielded calls from corporations interested in moving to Berry Farms because of the mixed-use element.

Miller says despite competition from other large mixed-use projects that are further along such as Indian Lake Village and Avenue Murfreesboro, wealthy Williamson County will be able to lure its share of tenants, residents and corporate citizens.

"We have the demographics to support this growth," he says.

The economic strength of the area – one of the wealthiest counties in the country – helps to make an ongoing project such as Berry Farms sustainable, Larkin says.

"There are so many areas in Nashville that start out with a lot of positive growth, but the growth flattens and they eventually reach their peaks," she says. "The Cool Springs and Franklin area do not have the same time-sensitive expiration date."