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VOL. 39 | NO. 16 | Friday, April 17, 2015

1 million new residents: Where will they live?

By Bill Lewis

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Bob Goodall, Jr. stands in front of one of the newly constructed homes in the Millstone subdivision in Hendersonville.

-- Michelle Morrow | The Ledger

At least 1 million people are expected to move to the Nashville region over the next 20 years. Already, the early arrivals have begun to dramatically change the landscape of the suburban counties surrounding the city.

Thousands of new homes are under construction, or about to be built, in places that until now were just a name on a map, and in small towns and cities that are being transformed by the attention.

“It’s a ‘build it and they shall come’ phenomenon,” says Eugene James, director of the Brentwood office of Metrostudy, which analyzes housing markets across the country.

“You’ve heard the saying, ‘drive until you qualify’” for a mortgage, he says.

There are examples of new development across the region.

-- Rural College Grove, which even long-time Middle Tennesseans might have trouble finding on a map [near Franklin and Murfreesboro], is home to The Grove, the region’s newest gated golf community. Another 381 executive homes are being built in the Falls Grove subdivision next door.

-- In Fairview, the once-overlooked Williamson County town that was always a bridesmaid to glamorous Franklin, 725 homes have been approved for just one subdivision. Hundreds of others are being planned by some of the region’s largest home building companies, including Ole South and the Jones Co.

“We’re on it. Fairview is going to go,” Ole South Vice President Trey Lewis says.

-- In Sumner County, close to 2,000 homes are on their way to Hendersonville, a quiet community of 54,000 on the shores of Old Hickory Lake 18 miles north of downtown Nashville. Last year, in comparison, the city issued just 194 building permits for homes.

Those houses won’t all be built this year or even next, but builders are racing to keep up with demand from homebuyers who have discovered Hendersonville, says Karlie Kee, past president of the Sumner County Association of Realtors and broker for Coldwell Banker Lakeside.

Construction in the Millstone subdivision in Hendersonville will eventually have about 600 homes, as well as an amenities center.

-- Michelle Morrow | The Ledger

“Right now our biggest problem is finding product to sell,” she points out. “Hendersonville is the next big thing.”

Many of those new residents will make the short commute to Nashville. Others will work for local employers like Beretta USA. The firearms manufacturer relocated to Gallatin, Hendersonville’s neighboring city, where it will operate a $45 million manufacturing and R&D [research and development] facility that is expected to create several hundred jobs.

More than 700 new homes are planned for Carellton, Gallatin’s newest subdivision, where local builder Goodall Homes and Lennar Homes, one of the country’s largest builders, are active.

South of Nashville in once-quiet Nolensville, which straddles the Davidson-Williamson county line, developers are preparing nearly 1,000 home building sites in eight new subdivisions. There are another 901 sites in existing neighborhoods where homes can be built.

“We want to still have a small town feel but open the door to more people who want to live here,” Nolensville Mayor Jim Alexander says.

Nashville is still the top choice for many homebuyers. Metro records show the city issued 3,279 home building permits last year and 1,102 so far this year. But even more new homes are planned for the surrounding counties, where the rising tide of development is becoming a flood.

Bob Goodall is president of Goodall Homes, which plans to build well more than 1,200 homes in Wilson, Williamson and Sumner counties.

“The magic Nashville has right now. Retirees want to be here. Millennials want to be here. Corporate relocations. Corporate expansions. Every time you turn around, Nashville is on the map,” Goodall says.

The counties around Nashville welcome growth, he adds. They also have something that the city doesn’t have much of – available land.

“It’s like a jet engine, a system built for growth. But the land, the availability of land, is the fuel,” he adds.

When the company recently announced its new 614-home Millstone subdivision in Hendersonville, 200 people attended hour-long meetings to learn more. Two of them, Markela and Christopher Ballard, quickly decided to buy a house.

“We saw the announcement, ‘coming soon to Hendersonville.’ We got on the VIP list and attended the meeting,” Markela Ballard says.

The Ballards, who are moving from Madison, are happy knowing their children will attend Sumner schools.

And living in Hendersonville makes sense for another reason: It is already their shopping and entertainment destination.

“We had one foot in the door,” she adds.

The Ballards’ home is under construction and they expect to move in at the end of October. Meanwhile, they are looking for an apartment with a short-term lease. Their home in Madison was on the market for just five days when it was purchased and they had to move.

Kee, the Hendersonville Realtor, says it’s not unusual for buyers like the Ballards to purchase homes before they’re built.

“In Millstone, I predict they’ll sell before they get out of the ground,” she notes.

More than 30 miles south of Nashville, Jon and Caitlin Sell were looking for an affordable home when they purchased a house in Spring Hill, the fast-growing city on the border between Williamson and Maury counties.

They purchased a new home for the price of an older home in Franklin “in return for a 12 minute drive” to that city, says Jon Sell.

Prices have gone up rapidly in their neighborhood in the Woodside subdivision as more people discover the area, he adds.

“Before we moved in, we had equity in the house,” says Jon Sell.

Regent Homes, the company that built their house, is also building condominiums in Berry Farms, the Franklin subdivision along Interstate 65.

Berry Farms, with retail shops, restaurants and office space mixed with its single family homes, townhomes and condos, is recreating the look and feel of an urban neighborhood carved into the fresh countryside.

Residents there “want to be in a walkable community. Walk to the coffee shop or the dentist. A community where you don’t have to get on the highway,” says Regent President David McGowan.

The company is building homes in Franklin and Nolensville, as well as in Murfreesboro and Smyrna, Davidson and Maury counties.

Demand of new homes is so strong in Smyrna that Ole South has sold all of the 200-plus homes in its Belmont subdivision and the 184 homes in its Lee Crossing neighborhood.

Rutherford’s soaring economy is rapidly attracting new residents, Lewis says.

Smyrna’s Nissan factory, recognized as the most productive auto assembly plant in the county, employs 8,000 workers, and nearby parts suppliers have created additional jobs.

Schwan Cosmetics, the world’s largest private-label cosmetics producer, relocated its North American headquarters to Murfreesboro, where it built a manufacturing and research facility.

Ole South is planning to launch two new neighborhoods in Smyrna, “but it will be the fourth quarter of the year,” Lewis says.

With 50,000 new residents moving to the Nashville region every year for the next 20 years, the places where people buy homes, live and raise their families are changing, Goodall adds.

“This is different,” he says. “This is something we haven’t seen before.”

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