July 22, 2015

Schilling Donation Gives Chamber Another Site to Consider

By Tony Marks
– The Collierville Herald –

Boyle Investment Co. has answered the challenge of developer David Halle and now two donated sites are dueling to be the new home of the Collierville Chamber of Commerce. Schilling Farms representatives on Monday offered a one-acre site that would give the chamber space to build a 5,000 sq. ft. office and about 800 feet of frontage on the high-traffic Poplar Avenue.

“Right now the focus is clearly going to be on these two” said Dale Jamieson, past-president of the chamber and who is heading up the search.

The chamber is located at 214 Center Street after moving from the Depot on the Town Square in 1999.

Both the 443-acre Schilling Farms and the 80-acre Halle Park are planned developments designed with attention to architectural design to create uniform campuses.

But the much larger Schilling, between Poplar Avenue and Winchester Road, mixes residences, offices and areas for future retail in its community. It also is the home of Schilling Farms Middle School and the YMCA at Schilling Farms.

The offer includes any public road improvements. Halle’s offer, made last month would also make way for a 5,000 sq. ft. chamber, double its current size. It would sit in Halle Park, north of the intersection of White Road and Poplar View Pkwy.

The park is home to the Collierville library, the future site of the Town Hall and a planned passive park with a 25 acre lake.

Halle said he is happy to see another donation on the table and praised the generosity of Harry Smith, whose Schilling Inc. is half of the joint venture with Boyle to develop Schilling Farms.

“I think that is great. I think that Harry Smith is extremely generous.” Halle said, “This is nothing new for him.” Smith is also president of the Collierville chamber, but Jamieson said he has been removed from the search to limit any conflict of interest.

“That was by intention, that was not by accident,” he said. “I really do not think that it is an issue at all.”

Jamieson’s committee, which includes representatives from Baptist Hospital Collierville and FedEx, will hire a firm like the Pickering Firm, Fleming and Associates or Fisher and Arnold, Inc., to do the site analysis on both sites.

“Boyle would not be involved in that part of it at all,” Jamieson said. “We not only want to avoid a conflict, we want to avoid the appearance of a conflict.”

Halle said he is disappointed that no land owners in the downtown area who could donate land for the chamber have come forward.

“I would like for the chamber to have three potential sites,” he said. “I am very disappointed that they have not stepped forward to donate land.”

When the search for a new location began in January, Smith asked Jamieson to head the committee and make a recommendation by the end of the year.

“I feel like that we are going to be able to do that,” Jamieson said. “Our committee is going to select a firm to do a site analysis of the Schilling site and the Halle site. That is the next step that we are going to take.”

He said he would defer to the professional firm hired as to which site is better.

“Both of them are very desirable sites,” he said. “I think both of them are very valuable sites.”