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VOL. 35 | NO. 48 | Friday, December 2, 2011

Developer sees commuter rail depot as key to community’s success

By Joe Morris

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Hamilton Springs: High-Speed Rail’s Future In Middle Tennessee? Lebanon developer Jack Bell has a vision. Whether it becomes a reality is beyond his control.

Bell’s company, Horn Springs Development, is building the multi-use Hamilton Springs project near Lebanon. With literally hundreds of homes and a retail center near the existing track line, Bell thinks the Music City Star would be a natural for residents.

After offering his thoughts to the Regional Transit Authority, the agency agreed and approved a resolution of intent for a new train station to be built at the Hamilton Springs site once there are houses and residents in place.

“The property surrounds the train tracks, and so I thought it looked like a natural,” Bell says. “For a station to be viable there needs to be strong density, and so this works.”

The 396-home development and boulevard was approved by the Lebanon Planning Commission in October, and would be within walking distance of the station. Ground will be broken in spring 2012, Bell says.

If all goes as hoped, the new station could open in mid-2013. To help nudge things along, Bell has applied for a federal TIGER grant, which would provide funding for the train stations, platform, parking and a greenway system.

“We hope for as many as 2,500 units eventually, and several acres of commercial space,” he says. “The rooftops will drive the commercial development, and we think having a commuter train will be a definite selling point for people who are looking at these houses.”

The development is receiving accolades in advance of the first “for sale” sign. In October, it won the Outstanding Planning Award: Green Development for a Small Community from the Tennessee chapter of the American Planning Association.

Bell says he anticipated opposition from existing area residents, but it’s been just the opposite.

“The station has gotten the most positive response of anything I’ve ever been involved in,” he says. “The RTA is on board, and the local community is full of people who say this is a great idea. So right now we’re working on the engineering for the main road off Highway 70 back to where the train stop will be.”

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