The western part of the city could be on the verge of an economic boom ignited in part by Westlawn, a project mixing commercial and residential development that’s about to revive after years on hold.
Numerous projects are on the rise in the area surrounding Veterans Parkway with Murfreesboro City Schools’ Overall Creek Elementary School set to open this fall. Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corp. also recently received Planning Commission approval to consolidate operations on a 150-acre tract off Veterans Parkway.
Leading the way in this uprising, though, could be Westlawn, a 206-acre development bound by state Route 840, Shores Road and stretching across Veterans Parkway to Beesley Road.
Atlanta-based Turnstone Group owns 159 acres proposed for more than 300 homes in addition to apartments. Company officials declined to talk about the plan.
Smyrna investors Bob Spivey and Mike Hollingshead own two 23-acre tracts targeted for commercial use that would front Veterans Parkway in the proposed development near state Route 840.
“840 is getting ready to explode because of the traffic and closeness to Nashville and Franklin,” said Realtor Larry Sims, the agent for Spivey and Hollingshead.
Murfreesboro Planning Commission approved Westlawn several years ago, but it got caught in the economic downturn and never took off, according to Sims.
An initial plan was prepared in 2007 and resubmitted in 2010. The project went through annexation and has utilities that will allow it to develop.
With the economy reviving and residential development picking up across the city, especially in west Murfreesboro, the Westlawn plan is nearly ready to begin, once some sewer and drainage issues are resolved, Sims said.
“There are people lining up to try to buy the property, and all we’re waiting for is to re-record the plat, which encompasses the residential and commercial,” Sims said.
Commercial development, which would be located along Veterans Parkway, would entail a shopping center and outparcels, according to Sims, who said he’s had a couple of contracts and could make something happen within 30 days of the plat being re-recorded.
Westlawn is designed to provide a “lifestyle environment” that meets the objectives of the Blackman Land Use Study, preserving the natural assets and embracing standards that will make it “a gateway” into west Murfreesboro, according to its initial presentation.
It was presented as a planned unit development, a type of zoning that requires it to develop exactly as proposed, and to meet mandates of the city’s Gateway Design Overlay, which sets stricter standards for landscaping, signs, building materials and other measures.
Larger lots are to be set aside for more environmentally sensitive areas of the property, and higher-density housing is to be located next to commercial areas.
The development will be designed to encourage walking and create a self-contained neighborhood of sorts, enabling residents to shop nearby without having to travel long distances to other business areas.
Blackman farmer John L. Batey said Westlawn’s location just off an 840 interchange makes sense for people who might be commuting to and from Nashville or Franklin. He also pointed out that Westlawn meshes with the Blackman Land Use Plan for business office and commercial development rather than warehouses.
Apartment construction seems to be outpacing single-family residential construction, and houses are getting a little smaller, he pointed out.
“We’re changing so fast,” said Batey, whose family farm has been in the Blackman community for some 200 years.
“If you don’t want change, you just remain a baby. We’re just in rotation. It just moves on, and you’ve got to adapt to change,” Batey noted. “If not, I’d still be using a horse and plow.”
Sam Stockard, Post Contributor