Can Spring Hill be the next CoolSprings?

Friday, September 27, 2013, Vol. 37, No. 39
By Bill Lewis

New construction, like these houses in Wade’s Grove off Buckner Lane, can be found throughout the Spring Hill area, both on the Williamson and Maury County sides.

-- Lyle Graves | Nashville Ledger

When General Motors announced it would create up to 1,800 new jobs in Spring Hill, the automaker had to share the spotlight with another announcement – Carmike Cinemas is opening the city’s first movie theater.

“We really have arrived,” says Carolyn Allen, a fifth-grade teacher who moved to Spring Hill several years ago, after hearing Carmike’s announcement.

Carmike’s 12-screen theater will be located in the Crossings, a thriving shopping center built in 2008 that attracted the attention of a West Coast investment company last year. San Diego-based Excel Trust paid $31 million for the retail center.

Excel believes Spring Hill has the potential of becoming a regional shopping destination, similar to Cool Springs just a few miles north on I-65. Another plus: The average household income within a three-mile radius of the Crossings is estimated by Excel to be $77,797.

“Spring Hill is a little bit of a hidden gem,” says Excel Vice President Greg Davis. “We hope they are the next Cool Springs. The dynamics are in place.”

Carmike shares those expectations.

The decision to build a theater “speaks volumes about the economic promise of Spring Hill,” says Fred Van Noy, the company’s chief operating officer. “We feel it is a very young community that has nothing but upward growth.”

Spring Hill is directly in the path of a wave of residential, retail and office development moving along I-65, from Nashville to Cool Springs and then farther south, says David McGowan, president of Regent Homes.

“From Old Hickory Boulevard south, there’s as much land approved as in all of Nashville for people to develop new offices,” he adds.

Several million square feet of office space could eventually be located in Berry Farms, the new mixed use development not far from Spring Hill where Regent is building new homes.

Celebration Homes, Ford Custom Classic Homes and Gregg & Raines Building Group also are building houses there.

Mars Petcare, which has major operations in Cool Springs, is building an $87.9 million innovation center in Thompson’s Station. Shelter Insurance recently located its regional headquarters in the town. Farm Bureau Insurance is headquartered in nearby Columbia.

Allen recalls driving to Cool Springs when she wanted to shop or go out to dinner. Now she goes to the Crossings, where she meets friends at her favorite restaurant, Olive Garden, or at O’Charley’s.

The Crossings is anchored by a Super Target, Kohl’s department store, PetSmart, Ross Dress for Less, Bed Bath & Beyond and Dollar Tree.

Soon Allen can add a Super Walmart to her shopping list.

“I can’t believe it,” Allen says. “A Super Walmart.”

The presence of a Carmike theater will help establish Spring Hill as a regional retailing center, says Natalie Kiern, director of the local Chamber of Commerce.

“This has been 10 years in the making,” she says. “This will bring people from five counties.”