Ovation (Mars in background).jpeg

Almost half of the Ovation submarket — among Metro Nashville area’s most high-profile mixed-use developments — just sold for $35 million after development onsite unexpectedly stalled for several years.

The purchased site accounts for 34.4 of the 77.7 acres that make up the Cool Springs submarket that broke ground in 2014. Ovation Loan Group, LLC., sold almost half the submarket with the help of Colliers International, a real estate investment and management company. The 34 acres account for less than a quarter of the planned 150-acre Ovation Subdivision, which was approved by Franklin’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen in 2015 for 380 multifamily apartments, 460,000 square feet of retail space, 450 hotel rooms and 30,000 square feet of office space.

The transaction is the culmination of empty commitments, a foreclosure auction and years of stalling after the original developer of these 34 acres failed to produce results. Shane Douglas, executive vice president and partner at Colliers International’s Nashville office, said in a November 2019 press release that they immediately began mapping “an appropriate timeline” to allow potential buyers a chance to respond to a high-profile property like this one appearing on the market once more, confident that many who could afford it were already aware.

In the press release Thursday evening for the sale of the property, Douglas said, “We have been incredibly fortunate to work with Greg Davis at Paramont Capital during the disposition of one of the most integral pieces of real estate in Cool Springs. Everything else around this corner hinges on the success of this development, which is now possible with the property sale.”

The development is positioned just east of Interstate 65 on the southeast corner of East McEwen Drive’s junction with South Carothers Parkway in Franklin. The approved plan for the Ovation Subdivision, however, is subject to change but will include 1.4 million square feet of Class-A office space adjacent to the sold site.

Patrick Inglis, senior vice president at Colliers and head of the Capital Markets team, said: “The Ovation site will play a key role in driving growth in Cool Springs, as it is entitled under the existing [plan] for a host of exciting mixed-use improvements, as well as potentially allowing up to 12 stories of height under the new Envision Franklin long-term development plan.”

An unofficial groundbreaking for the $700 million Ovation property involved an RSVP-only party of 140 invited guests — including American Pickers star Mike Wolfe — to celebrate the beginning of a project under general contractor, South Star.

Six years later when all 150 acres were expected to be complete and serve as the core of Cool Springs with a single hotel to account for 250 of its 450 rooms, then-owner Paramont Capital began angling to sell the 34 largely undeveloped acres, advertising that the property was for sale beginning in November 2019. When the pandemic made inroads in the U.S., Georgia-based developer Stan Thomas had accomplished very little on its western half of the property compared to Highwoods Properties, who exhibited a much faster rate of progress for its eastern half, hence the current North American headquarters for Mars Petcare.

Days after Mars Petcare’s ribbon cutting, a lending group hosted a foreclosure auction for Thomas’s 34 acres despite Thomas still owning another 42 acres.

The unusual auction landed on a bail bondsman casting a winning bid of $42 million, but failing to produce the money, so the group ate the cost of $40.5 million to take the property back.