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Relient J

New Gateway Construction

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With all of these new hotels likely to come online within the next 2-3 years, expect attendant retail boom to follow and see more windows open at The Avenue and more of the outparcels be developed as well. Murfreesboro is still under-retailed to an extent.

I've always thought that Murfreesboro was lacking in retail compared to peer cities such as Chattanooga or Huntsville. Highway 231 North and South has been neglected for many years with significant areas of the corridor having high populations and incomes to match. There are a couple of wal-marts planned, however, there are already two within the city limits. It would be great to have more diverse options (i.e. Costco, Whole Foods, or Trader Joes which there are Bring to Murfreesboro Facebook Pages for). What you will most likely see are new and unique stores that enter the Murfreesboro Market hover around the Medical Center Parkway/Gateway area while duplicate stores such as Target, Starbucks, T.J. Maxx etc. open locations in other areas of the city.

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I've always thought that Murfreesboro was lacking in retail compared to peer cities such as Chattanooga or Huntsville. 

 

I do think there is room for more retail in Murfreesboro, but I do not think Chattanooga or Huntsville are peer cities or good comparisons. For one, even the city populations are considerably higher (~60,000 and 70,000 larger, respectively). Two, both are the principle cities in MSAs/CSAs that are much larger (540,000/940,000 for Chattanooga, 430,000/680,000 for Huntsville). 

 

Murfreesboro, as large as the actual city is, is still an exurb of a larger city. The city itself, as well as close-by cities Smyrna and La Vergne, do have a significant population that commute to Nashville (or other parts of the metro) for both work and other amenities, like shopping. If Murfreesboro were a stand alone city, it could not nearly support the retail base of somewhere like Chattanooga or Huntsville.

 

To get a better idea of what Murfreesboro/Rutherford county should support, I think comparisons to metros between 250,000-350,000 would provide a better comparison. On one hand, it's not surprising that retail would be smaller since Rutherford County is still a component of a larger MSA, and it is somewhat affected by the retail amenities in surrounding counties (not just Davidson, but especially Williamson, in this case, which has some of the higher end retail that would potentially locate in Murfreesboro if it were stand alone. On the other hand, Murfreesboro would still be a destination for some residents of adjacent counties, such as Bedford, Cannon, and Coffee. 

 

For comparisons, I would look more towards cities like Lynchburg, VA; Wilmington, NC; Amarillo, TX; Clarksville, TN; Roanoke, VA; Evansville, IN; Lubbock, TX; Green Bay, WI (and others). There are also probably better examples within a metro area that could serve as a reference.

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I do think there is room for more retail in Murfreesboro, but I do not think Chattanooga or Huntsville are peer cities or good comparisons. For one, even the city populations are considerably higher (~60,000 and 70,000 larger, respectively). Two, both are the principle cities in MSAs/CSAs that are much larger (540,000/940,000 for Chattanooga, 430,000/680,000 for Huntsville). 

 

Murfreesboro, as large as the actual city is, is still an exurb of a larger city. The city itself, as well as close-by cities Smyrna and La Vergne, do have a significant population that commute to Nashville (or other parts of the metro) for both work and other amenities, like shopping. If Murfreesboro were a stand alone city, it could not nearly support the retail base of somewhere like Chattanooga or Huntsville.

 

To get a better idea of what Murfreesboro/Rutherford county should support, I think comparisons to metros between 250,000-350,000 would provide a better comparison. On one hand, it's not surprising that retail would be smaller since Rutherford County is still a component of a larger MSA, and it is somewhat affected by the retail amenities in surrounding counties (not just Davidson, but especially Williamson, in this case, which has some of the higher end retail that would potentially locate in Murfreesboro if it were stand alone. On the other hand, Murfreesboro would still be a destination for some residents of adjacent counties, such as Bedford, Cannon, and Coffee. 

 

For comparisons, I would look more towards cities like Lynchburg, VA; Wilmington, NC; Amarillo, TX; Clarksville, TN; Roanoke, VA; Evansville, IN; Lubbock, TX; Green Bay, WI (and others). There are also probably better examples within a metro area that could serve as a reference.

I don't think 60,000 is that large in terms of city population, especially considering that all of the above cities are small in comparison to the msa or csa they support. But I do agree that, Murfreesboro is different since it is part of the Nashville MSA. That could help it in some ways, but hurt it in others like the Franklin example you mentioned. Chattanooga and Huntsville really do not seem that much different than Murfreesboro in terms of size. Murfreesboro nor Huntsville could possibly compete with Chattanooga's downtown area, currently, however. That is really where I'd like to see more focus is downtown. The neighborhoods are there, MTSU is close by, it's just lacking the infill and connectivity the other communities have. The focus continues to be on annexation and expansion farther out.  :dunno:

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I don't think 60,000 is that large in terms of city population, especially considering that all of the above cities are small in comparison to the msa or csa they support. But I do agree that, Murfreesboro is different since it is part of the Nashville MSA. That could help it in some ways, but hurt it in others like the Franklin example you mentioned. Chattanooga and Huntsville really do not seem that much different than Murfreesboro in terms of size. Murfreesboro nor Huntsville could possibly compete with Chattanooga's downtown area, currently, however. That is really where I'd like to see more focus is downtown. The neighborhoods are there, MTSU is close by, it's just lacking the infill and connectivity the other communities have. The focus continues to be on annexation and expansion farther out.  :dunno:

 

60,000 is the difference in population. Chattanooga and Huntsville are 50-60% larger in terms of city population. Personally, I think Huntsville and Chattanooga both seem considerably larger than Murfreesboro...especially Chattanooga. I could conceivably see Murfreesboro more like Huntsville, since Huntsville is more of a late-bloomer in terms of development (Chattanooga has been of considerable size for quite a while).

 

But, I certainly agree with the other part of your post. Murfreesboro has a good bit of potential. I would love to see Murfreesboro concentrate on acting more like their size, rather than just sprawl out in every direction. The urban grid in Murfreesboro is significantly larger than any of the other suburbs of Nashville, and I think they should use that to their advantage. 

 

Also, while The Avenue/Gateway is still a very suburban model for commercial development, I think it has a lot of advantages over the other corridors in town. I think it will eventually provide for a great entryway into downtown Murfreesboro. But what is the plan for downtown Murfreesboro? I certainly understand the idea of preserving the historical/small town aspect of the square...but I would like to see some higher density uses in town. I would love for a developer to develop some midrise office space, and perhaps residential around downtown. I don't think skyscrapers would be good (or popular, even)...but some 5-12 story buildings could give it a more appropriate feel. Streetscapes downtown (away from the square) are also a wreck (at least they were the last time I was there). Murfreesboro needs a more inviting streetscape.

 

A concept I've heard talked about before (and applied to the urban development happening in Nashville), clustering, would be a good move for Murfreesboro. Rather than a complete city-wide overhaul, I think Murfreesboro should concentrate its efforts in certain key areas, and let the market take over and grow those areas outward. Downtown and MTSU are obviously the two primary areas I would concentrate on...but I would also look at key intersections or corridors (I don't think anything more needs to be done to Medical Center Parkway, but 41 and 231 could certainly use some work).

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It is so weird to travel down Medical Center Parkway to see all new development, then go over the bridge (CSX Crossing/Greenway) only to arrive at Broad Street Jackson Heights Plaza with boarded up, painted up, dilapidated buildings lol. I'm not saying everything has to be new and sparkly, but come on, that is embarrassing to leave Broad Street looking the way it looks.

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It is so weird to travel down Medical Center Parkway to see all new development, then go over the bridge (CSX Crossing/Greenway) only to arrive at Broad Street Jackson Heights Plaza with boarded up, painted up, dilapidated buildings lol. I'm not saying everything has to be new and sparkly, but come on, that is embarrassing to leave Broad Street looking the way it looks.

 

Let's redevelop Jackson Heights Plaza like the old 100 Oaks/Vanderbilt center.

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60,000 is the difference in population. Chattanooga and Huntsville are 50-60% larger in terms of city population. Personally, I think Huntsville and Chattanooga both seem considerably larger than Murfreesboro...especially Chattanooga. I could conceivably see Murfreesboro more like Huntsville, since Huntsville is more of a late-bloomer in terms of development (Chattanooga has been of considerable size for quite a while).

 

But, I certainly agree with the other part of your post. Murfreesboro has a good bit of potential. I would love to see Murfreesboro concentrate on acting more like their size, rather than just sprawl out in every direction. The urban grid in Murfreesboro is significantly larger than any of the other suburbs of Nashville, and I think they should use that to their advantage. 

 

Also, while The Avenue/Gateway is still a very suburban model for commercial development, I think it has a lot of advantages over the other corridors in town. I think it will eventually provide for a great entryway into downtown Murfreesboro. But what is the plan for downtown Murfreesboro? I certainly understand the idea of preserving the historical/small town aspect of the square...but I would like to see some higher density uses in town. I would love for a developer to develop some midrise office space, and perhaps residential around downtown. I don't think skyscrapers would be good (or popular, even)...but some 5-12 story buildings could give it a more appropriate feel. Streetscapes downtown (away from the square) are also a wreck (at least they were the last time I was there). Murfreesboro needs a more inviting streetscape.

 

A concept I've heard talked about before (and applied to the urban development happening in Nashville), clustering, would be a good move for Murfreesboro. Rather than a complete city-wide overhaul, I think Murfreesboro should concentrate its efforts in certain key areas, and let the market take over and grow those areas outward. Downtown and MTSU are obviously the two primary areas I would concentrate on...but I would also look at key intersections or corridors (I don't think anything more needs to be done to Medical Center Parkway, but 41 and 231 could certainly use some work).

You never mentioned the size of each city's city limits which definitely has an effect on the perception of size. When you consider city limits, each city is broken down like this:

 

Chattanooga: 143.2 sq. mi.

Clarksville: 95.5 sq. mi.

Murfreesboro: 55.35 sq. mi.

 

To put it in perspective, Clarksville and Chattanooga have way bigger city limits than Murfreesboro and are the dominant cities in their counties. In Montgomery County, Clarksville is the only incorporated city.To be fair, it is ok to consider Smyrna and Lavergne as part of Murfreesboro's urban influence. Even if one couldn't accept Lavergne, just merely adding Smyrna would push Murfreesboro's city limits to about 78 sq. mi. and give it a population of 155,000 which is still a smaller footprint than Clarksville but a larger population. Adding Smyrna and Lavergne would boost Murfreesboro to about 189,000 and a city limits of 103 sq. mi. which is still smaller than Chattanooga in land area but larger in population. 

 

Here is what the latest census estimates place each county by population:

 

Montgomery: 172,000

Rutherford: 275,000

Hamilton: 345,000

Madison County, AL: 334,000

 

When you add Huntsville for comparison purposes, its city limits is over 200 sq. mi. with a population of 184,000. How big do you think each city would be if they had Murfreesboro's city limit size? In addition, given the data above, Murfreesboro is statistically the most dense (I know laugh laugh ha ha), but it is true.

Murfreesboro: 1,700 residents per sq. mi.

Clarksville: 1,300 residents per sq. mi.

Chattanooga: 1,100 residents per sq. mi.

Huntsville: 909 residents per sq. mi. 

 

Long story short, Murfreesboro is definitely comparable to the above cities. The link below provides insight into what Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Lavergne's urban growth boundaries will look like in the future (several years away, but you get the point). Each city's urban growth boundary, clearly touches, especially Smyrna and Lavergne. Smyrna nearly triples in land area.

http://www.rutherfordcountytn.gov/planning/ugb.htm

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Let's redevelop Jackson Heights Plaza like the old 100 Oaks/Vanderbilt center.

Tear down Jackson Heights Plaza and start from scratch. I have no idea what would complement that area, but the city's planning director certainly has plans for the future given the close proximity of the new Broad Street/Hwy 96 interchange. In a recent interview he stated that once that was complete, the city would begin construction on the Broad Street widening. Broad Street will be widened to seven lanes from Medical Center Parkway to SR 840 and will eventually be under the city's gateway overlay district, which means stricter design elements similar to what's on Medical Center Parkway/Thompson Lane. In addition, the Swanson developers have plans for the old G.E. site which is currently undergoing demolition. Plans include a mixed use development with majority retail, class A office space, and residential space. Stay tuned.

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Travelling through M'boro on I-24 yesterday, I spotted several new construction sites near the outlet mall and Embassy Suites.  One looks like it's about 3-4 stories and has a really odd (stupid?) roofline... and appears to be about 60% complete.  Another project has elevator shafts rising.  They look like they're going to be budget hotels.  Any info on these (and other) projects?

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Travelling through M'boro on I-24 yesterday, I spotted several new construction sites near the outlet mall and Embassy Suites.  One looks like it's about 3-4 stories and has a really odd (stupid?) roofline... and appears to be about 60% complete.  Another project has elevator shafts rising.  They look like they're going to be budget hotels.  Any info on these (and other) projects?

The roofline one is the Residence Inn and the one with elevator shafts only is the Hilton Garden Inn. The Avenue isn't an outlet mall, as an aside. Murfreesboro is underserved by hotels, has been for some time really, so we're pretty much playing catch up.

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The roofline one is the Residence Inn and the one with elevator shafts only is the Hilton Garden Inn. The Avenue isn't an outlet mall, as an aside. Murfreesboro is underserved by hotels, has been for some time really, so we're pretty much playing catch up.

The area near the Embassy Suites has eight hotels planned, and the Hyatt Place and Drury Inn are back on the agenda. The Avenue was recently purchased by Texas-based Hines Global, which also purchased the Markets at Town Center in Jacksonville. The company sees future growth in both areas.

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The area near the Embassy Suites has eight hotels planned, and the Hyatt Place and Drury Inn are back on the agenda. The Avenue was recently purchased by Texas-based Hines Global, which also purchased St. John's Town Center in Jacksonville. The company sees future growth in both areas.

Just to make clear, they purchased The Markets at Town Center, not the actual SJTC still owned by Simon. It's one of their highest performing properties and will not let it go.

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