The $200M Cool Springs Project You've Never Heard Of

The location of Summit, a planned development by SouthStar, is hard to miss. It's a hilltop overlooking Interstate 65 at exit 67, in the heart of the Cool Springs commercial hub south of Nashville.

What's escaped notice is the fact that SouthStar executives Glenn Wilson and Glenn McGehee had even assembled the 30 acres of land in the first place.

The duo tells me they're in talks with a medical group that would be new to the Franklin-Cool Springs area. The potential tenant would anchor a planned medical facility. Wilson and McGehee hope a commitment will come within the next few weeks.

A full-service hotel and a limited-service hotel have shown interest. Both could become a reality, Wilson said.

SouthStar expects the development will likely cost between $150 million to $200 million. SouthStar is debt-free on the site and intends to own it long-term.

"It will be the front door to the whole area," said McGehee, president and principal of SouthStar.

SouthStar's Summit site has avoided attention largely because of the focus on two massive neighboring developments — one of which also involves SouthStar.

That one is Ovation, a $700 million project including 1.4 million square feet of office space, luxury condos and apartments, upscale retail and restaurants, and a hotel. SouthStar will create the retail and the hotel, and team with Franklin-based Bristol Development Group for the residential aspect. Highwoods is handling the project's office component.

The other big development is Pat Emery's Franklin Park, which includes 330 apartments and up to five 10-story office buildings that would total more than 1.3 million square feet.

All that corporate office space would justify having two hotels on the Summit site, Wilson said. A Hilton Homewood Suites would be located nearby.

SouthStar will develop Ovation and Summit at the same time, Wilson said. Groundbreaking for Ovation is scheduled for next month.

"We really feel like they can play off of each other," Wilson said. "The goal is to complement and not compete."

SouthStar pieced together the Summit site in three purchases from mid-2013 to March 2014. The total cost for the 30 acres was $13.5 million, all farmland held by the Pickering family.

The same family owned the land where Ovation will be built, and across of Carothers Parkway, where Vanderbilt intends to build a medical complex. SouthStar's Summit site is bordered by Vanderbilt's property on the right, and I-65 on the left.

Before the recession, SouthStar had made a run at the property that the Pickering family wound up selling to Vanderbilt.

"We had a retailer, but when the market collapsed, they went away and so did we," Wilson said. "Vandy was a blessing in disguise because that put us on the track to think bigger — Ovation. We probably would have done a strip center if we'd landed Vanderbilt's land."

The presence of Vanderbilt is one factor leading Wilson and McGehee to give Summit a medical-health theme, including even the restaurants that could locate on-site.

Another factor is SouthStar's budding health care interest, born during the recession, when Wilson and McGehee realized they needed to reinvent at least part of the business that was started only seven years before.

The first byproduct of that push is a $17 million HealthPlex in a suburb of Jackson, Miss. The 100,000-square-foot facility puts everything from a health club to physical therapy to orthopedic surgeons at one location.

"We think Summit has a ton of medical potential, being next to Vanderbilt," Wilson said.

Article from Nashville Business Journal

Written by Adam Sichko