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VOL. 45 | NO. 16 | Friday, April 16, 2021

Beautiful house, but how fast is the internet?

Cars, roads built the suburbs. Quick connectivity is now expanding them

By Bill Lewis

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Rachel Pinkstaff left California looking for a place with more affordable home prices and less government intrusion. She found what she was looking for in fast-growing Thompson’s Station in southern Williamson County.

“To me, anything was cheaper than California,” says Pinkstaff, who purchased a live-work townhome while it was being built by Regent Homes in the Tollgate Village neighborhood. She plans to operate her holistic nutrition coaching business, Pink Greens, from the commercial space on the first level.

Regent is offering townhomes and condo flats in Tollgate Village’s Town Center, which has a combination of residences and retail shops, from $364,275 to $452,900.

“You can get something in Tennessee cheaper, but the Franklin area is very desirable. It’s a great value,” adds Pinkstaff, a first-time homebuyer.

Pinkstaff isn’t alone. Buyers from all over the country are moving to the Nashville region for the lifestyle, public schools, career opportunities, mild weather, to retire or to be closer to family. Those moving from large cities find home prices that are rising but affordable, at least compared with where they’re coming from, in neighborhoods extending from Nashville’s urban core to the farthest suburbs.

Clay Godwin’s career brought him to the Nashville region even though he works hundreds of miles away in the Great Lakes region.

Godwin and his family moved to Thompson’s Station from Jackson, Mississippi, after his employer invited him to “commute” to work from Nashville International Airport.

“The airport had everything to do with my ability to live here,” says Godwin, who works in the pharmaceutical industry.

“I cover the Great Lakes but didn’t want to move there,” he explains.

Godwin and his wife, Laine, purchased a house built by Phillips Builders in Tollgate Village. The company is also launching construction of homes in Spring Hill’s Harvest Point subdivision and in Hendersonville.

Phillips Builders aims to offer homes for under $700,000 in Tollgate, says Amy Pappas, a Realtor with the LCT Team at Parks real estate company in Franklin. For Williamson County as a whole, the average cost of a home was $824,266 in March.

Rachel Pinkstaff just closed on her new live-work townhome in Tollgate Village in Thompson’s Station. She moved from California.

-- Photo By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

Williamson County’s prices were “a hard pill to swallow, coming from a $250,000 home in Mississippi,” Godwin says.

But their home is a great value, he adds. Their two children will attend Williamson County’s highly rated public schools, making it unnecessary to pay private school tuition.

“A lot of times the bill for a private school is twice what your house is,” Godwin says.

Southern Williamson County is the perfect destination for the family, he adds.

When they toured Tollgate, “kids were playing. I’ve got the city close by if I want it, and a great airport,” Godwin points out.

The gigabit boundary

Technology, and the trend toward working and educating children from home, are making it possible for people live wherever they want when moving to the region.

“There are two questions we get asked. Can we build a pool, and who’s providing internet service and what speed?” says James Carbine, president of Carbine & Associates.

The company’s newest neighborhood, The Mill at Bond Springs, will have gigabit-speed internet service, enough for mom and dad to run their businesses and the children to study online, all at the same time.

The neighborhood, which will have just 55 homes on 115 acres, is south of I-840 in Williamson County. Cadence Construction, Hewn Custom Home Design and Heritage Homes also are building there.

“As long as you have (high-speed internet), people are willing to live farther out. Wherever the boundary is, that’s where people stop. It’s kind of an artificial boundary,” Carbine acknowledges.

State and federal programs to bring high-speed internet service to rural areas will encourage development even farther from downtown, he says.

“That’s opening things up,” Carbine says.

Homebuyers used to mainly check the water pressure in the shower before buying a home. Now they check the internet service, echoes David McGowan, president of Regent Homes.

“We have buyers who verify the internet speed before they buy the house. They are working part or full-time from the house,” McGowan says.

New development continues right next door to Pinkstaff’s townhome.

-- Photo By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

The trend is changing the design of new homes, explains Realtor Lisa Culp Taylor, who leads the LCT Team at Parks.

“We now have Zoom rooms in houses, space where they can have their Zoom meeting. It looks pretty and you can’t hear the kids,” she says.

High-speed internet service is “one of the top two” things buyers check, Taylor adds.

“The other is, ‘how close is a grocery store?’ But that’s less important now because of Instacart and other delivery services. Even liquor stores are delivering. 2020 changed a lot of things,” she says.

Choice of destinations

The result is that people moving to the region are free to live wherever suits them. Some are choosing Williamson County for the schools and the lifestyle in communities like Stephens Valley, bordered on three sides by the Natchez Trace Parkway, she says.

Taylor represents Legend Homes, one of the builders in the Stephens Valley. Prices in the neighborhood range from around $1 million and up.

Commuters have easy access to Franklin and to downtown Nashville, which is about 20 miles away. Stephens Valley is located off Highway 100 and Sneed and Pasquo roads.

The community’s list of planned amenities includes pocket parks, trails, sidewalks and 500 acres of open space. There also will be a farmers market, dog park, playground, community garden, swimming pool, tennis courts and a fitness facility. A commercial town center with shops and restaurants is planned.

Other buyers choose Nashville’s urban center for the excitement and convenience of city living or Maury County on the region’s south side where they can get more house and land for the money. Sumner County has Old Hickory Lake and Interstate 65 for commuters.

“There’s no one particular area,” Taylor explains.

On the far north side of the region in the fast-growing town of White House, two of the region’s best-known builders have launched The Reserve at Palmers Crossing subdivision.

Drees Homes is offering homes priced from the mid-$300,000s to the mid-$400,000s. David Weekley Homes’ prices start in the mid-$300,000s.

Clay Godwin, his wife Laine and children Eve, 9 and Jude, 7 are enjoying their Tollgate Village home. The family moved to the area from Mississippi.

-- Photo By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

“White House is on I-65 just 22 miles north of Nashville. It’s also a short distance south of Bowling Green, Kentucky,’’ says Bruce Peterson, Drees Homes’ market manager at The Reserve at Palmers Crossing. “The city provides easy access to everyday necessities like shopping, dining and health care while also maintain a charming, small town feel.’’

Sumner County’s newest master-planned community, Kensington Downs, is being launched by Goodall Homes in Gallatin. New home construction in the city is fueled by the arrival of major employers including firearms manufacturer Beretta, which has manufacturing and R&D operations there, and Facebook, which is investing $800 million in a data center.

Kensington Downs is expected to have 100 townhomes and 200 single-family homes. The first townhomes will be available this spring. Single-family homes should be available by the end of the year or early 2022. Prices have not been announced.

In nearby Hendersonville, two master-planned communities are designed for buyers looking for a lifestyle, not just a home. In Durham Farms, a full-time lifestyle director plans activities and events.

Residents have use of The Farmhouse community center, which features a state-of-the-art fitness facility, a swimming pool and lounge area, a free Wi-Fi work café, community conference room and a game and activities area.

Some of the region’s top builders have built homes in Durham Farms, including Celebration, Ryan and Goodall Homes. Currently Grandview Homes is offering single-family homes from the mid-$500,000s. Houses by Lennar Homes are priced from the high $300,000s.

Golf carts instead of cars

One day soon you may see residents driving golf carts along the streets of Glenbrook Village. That new mixed-use community, combining condominiums, townhomes, live-work townhomes, shopping, services and dining in a walkable neighborhood, is taking shape along Vietnam Veterans Boulevard in Hendersonville.

Pinkstaff has a holistic health business and says she would also like to start a smoothie business from her home. This downstairs area will be where she sets up her business.

-- Photo By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

“This is an example of an ideal suburban mixed-use development that represents the housing of the future,” says Mack McClung, founder and CEO of Vastland Communities, the company developing Glenbrook Village.

The community will be on more than 23 acres next door to Glenbrook Center, a popular open-air shopping center with more than 600,000 square feet of retail and restaurants.

Glenbrook Village is expected to have about 73,000 square feet of commercial space and 297 residential units for sale. The neighborhood will have community gardens, a pool, a playground and a dog park. Residential buildings will be arranged around courtyards and green space. There will be charging stations for electric cars. Some townhomes will have rooftop decks. Home prices are expected to start in the high $300,000s.

Glenbrook Village is also expected to have mixed-use buildings with commercial space on the ground floor and residential space upstairs. There will also be commercial buildings and space for restaurants.

“You won’t have to leave your neighborhood to get anything you want,” McClung says.

Travel a few miles south of Gallatin and Hendersonville on Highway 109 and you’ll arrive in Wilson County, where Goodall Homes is preparing to build more than 1,000 single-family homes in The Preserve at Belle Pointe.

The neighborhood will have homes for all stages life, including traditional single-family homes, townhomes and one level courtyard cottages and villas.

The Preserve is on 400 acres with open areas and pocket parks that preserve the natural setting. The neighborhood is on the west side of Lebanon, making it convenient for commuters.

Living in the city

Some people want to be close to the heart of the city, but not too close. Thirty-two of them will have the opportunity to buy one of Vastland’s new Shadow Springs townhomes on Old Hickory Boulevard on Nashville’s south side, minutes from both downtown and Franklin.

Shadow Springs is in Davidson County, steps from the Williamson County line. The development has the panache of a Brentwood address but not the price tag. The average price of a home in Brentwood is just shy of $1.3 million. Shadow Springs starts in the $600,000s.

“We have 80 on the waiting list,” Vastland’s McClung says.

Homebuyers who want the convenience and excitement of living in the city have their choice of emerging neighborhoods with distinct personalities.

In Wedgewood-Houston south of downtown near the Fairgrounds, homebuyers will find semi-custom townhomes at prices beginning in the upper $600,000 in Red Seal Homes’ Fusion development.

Fusion will have 28 townhomes. It will also include nine one- and two-bedroom workforce condominiums with prices starting in the $200,000s.

Wedgewood-Houston is a “maker community” that appeals to artists and artisans. Businesses there include Corsair Distillery and Diskin Cider.

On Nashville’s rapidly redeveloping northeast side, Red Seal is building its Proximity townhomes at the corner of West Trinity Lane and Old Matthews Road.

Proximity will have 60 townhomes. Initial prices start at $375,000. The development is close to downtown, Germantown and East Nashville’s Five Points entertainment district. Top Golf, MetroCenter and River North, a mixed-used development planned for the east bank of the Cumberland River, are nearby.

In The Nations neighborhood west of downtown, Red Seal’s 44TENN development will have 28 two, three and four-bedroom townhomes with prices starting in the $400,000s. 44TENN will also have nine workforce condominium flats priced around $300,000.

Nashville’s urban neighborhoods appeal to many people moving to the region.

“Buyers really love the close proximity to the downtown core paired with the larger amounts of space, garage parking and beautiful views of the city,’’ says Brian Hoffman, third-generation owner of Red Seal Homes. “Despite rising construction costs, we try our best to offer attainable rates for brand-new properties.

“We’re seeing a mix of buyers. A lot are moving to Nashville. Recent U-Haul data showed that more people moved to Tennessee than any other state last year amid the coronavirus pandemic,” he adds.

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