The Brentwood City Commission approved the rezoning of 5.62 acres of land at Maryland Way and Brentwood Boulevard which will soon see the addition of a new hotel and restaurant in the EastPark business complex which dates back to 1974.
The proposal to change the property from Commercial-Office to Commercial-Retail had been the subject of citizen’s comments and a lively and at times argumentative debate between commissioners.
On Monday night with a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Rhea Little, Vice Mayor Nelson Andrews and Commissioners Regina Smithson and Anne Dunn voting yes and Commissioners Ken Travis, Susannah Macmillan and Mark Gorman voting no.
The rezoning plan will see the demolition of the EastPark One vacant office buildings and the renovation of the EastPark Two building, while the EastPark Three building was not part of the rezoning request.
According to the online agenda, the site plan includes a future four-story, 120-room hotel and a 6,000-square-foot restaurant with a 1,000-square-foot outdoor patio seating/dining area having an additional area of 1,000 square-feet, with tenants not yet determined.
“Our plan provides a mixed use walkable project that is more economically viable in today's climate, and more interesting as a streetscape along Maryland way and Brentwood Boulevard, and our plan provides diversity to the Maryland forms current stock of buildings,” Boyle Investment Company Managing Partner Jeff Haines said, speaking on behalf of the project.
“I had dinner again at city park tonight,” Haines continued. “10 years ago, if you think about that, we couldn't have had dinner at CityPark. It was a series of old buildings built in the 70s and 80s, and thanks to ya’ll’s consideration in 2013, we added a hotel, we added 40,000 square feet of retail, and today when I was up there for dinner, there were families outside the new taco restaurant playing cornhole. That's what we want to accomplish at EastPark and take the 1974 functionally-obsolete office building and improve it and improve Maryland farms.”
Much of the debate among Commissioners centered around concerns over impacts to the city’s sewer system, which is currently being addressed by the city.
“We are making great progress on our sewer system,” Commissioner Macmillan said in a prepared statement.
“We have already invested in a plan to invest millions of dollars in our sewer system with rehabilitation of our sewer pipes throughout the city and one sewer storage tank, but we are not there yet. We need a second tank and continued sewer rehab. I cannot support rezoning this property to C-2 thereby allowing for an upzoning on the sewer system, knowing a hotel with increased demand on our sewer system will be located here until our sewer system is better prepared to handle that demand.”
Commissioner Dunn responded with her support of the project.
“We're in a marathon not a sprint. We're doing everything we know how to do short of stopping building things. What else can we do? I don't know,” Dunn said.
“Brentwood has a very unique business plan. We have commercial in the north, commercial in the south. By making sure that each area's thriving we will have justified over the years not allowing it to spread beyond those borders. We've got to keep those viable, things have changed in three years. You can't guarantee much of anything anymore.
"The whole way people live their lives and go to work has changed. I have seen so are my favorite restaurants close, and they're not coming back. It's very depressing I think to the community and the country. We've been through some hard, hard times when I see people who are willing to make put a stake in the future and try to keep a business thriving and keep this park viable. I feel like I have to support it.”
Dunn also addressed her concerns over a campaign flier from Gino Bulso, a District 61 State Rep. candidate, which reads, “How many gallons of raw sewage should The City of Brentwood dump into the Little Harpeth River each year?”, something that Dunn said was done with the involvement of unnamed city commissioners and was called, “disturbing” and “embarrassing” by fellow Commissioner Smithson.
“I'm for this, I think it'll spark Maryland Farms. And I think the people of Brentwood need to know how hard this city has worked to be number one in the state on what they're doing with water and sewer,” Smithson said.
“We've got to keep Maryland Farms vibrant,” Gorman said. “That's something that's important. It's a little jewel here in Brentwood, for sure. But we can't continue to overrun our infrastructure. And what we've done is we've overrun our infrastructure related to sewer.”
Commissioner Dunn pushed back on Gorman’s claim, saying that while the city is concerned and addressing sewer and water-quality issues, the severity of the problem is “an exaggeration that a particular political point of view is pushing in this city, and it’s been picked up,” calling it a “red herring” that disregards the advisement from experts at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
“Businesses are pretty good at figuring out what the needs for community are, and building a hotel here won't put a hotel everywhere else, so that didn't affect my decision,” Little said.
“I do think it would be good, I think it would help with walkability in that area, and I think over the next 10 or 15 years, we will see a lot more walkability and Maryland Farms,” he continued. “And I think we will see that in some of our office park areas down on the southern end of the city, and I think there will be new concepts that we don't even know about right now. That may occur, but they will fit in with the fabric of Brentwood and I think this fits in fine with the fabric.”
The agenda can be read in full below.
“Please note that the submitted site plan is not binding as with an OSRD Development Plan. The plan is meant to provide an idea of how the site may develop in the future. If the rezoning is approved, the property owner will present a plan that complies with all applicable technical requirements of the Zoning Ordinance to the Planning Commission for review. The plans would also address grading and stormwater issues associated with the redevelopment of the property. As part of the submittal, the applicant will also provide a pedestrian access plan that includes a crosswalk across Brentwood Boulevard and sidewalks in accordance with the requirements of the Subdivision Regulations. There are no sidewalks on either frontage of the property.”
View the entire City Commission meeting here.