August 30, 2022

Bartlett’s $162 million Union Depot project moves forward

The Bartlett Planning Commission has unanimously approved the master plan for Union Depot, the suburb’s first mixed-use project, on the former Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home site.

The commission’s endorsement of the $162 million project Monday night moved the development a step closer to reality. Blue Sky Communities, led by Keith Grant, is developing the 74-acre property, which sat vacant for several years.

“I’m glad we got it passed,” said Bartlett Vice Mayor Jack Young, who also sits on the Planning Commission. “Each step is getting it a little closer, and it’s something we need badly here in Bartlett. We’ve never had a big mixed-use development here, so it’s breaking new ground for everybody.”

Last December, the suburb’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a special use permit to allow for a mixed-use development on the property. It is the first project to be built under a new ordinance passed in late-2019.

The master plan subdivides the property into an estimated 622 residential units with three commercial lots, all built in six phases. Plans include about 336 flats, 70 townhomes, and161 single-family homes, along with 55 lofts above retail and an additional 6 acres of retail for a total of 85,000 square feet of commercial space.

Access to the development will come from two entrances off U.S. 70 as well as third entrance from Kirby Whitten Road. The master plan includes two stormwater detention ponds, 11 common open space lots, and two underground regional sewer holding tanks.

One issue the commission debated Monday was the need for a fencing screen next to the existing homes adjacent to the project. The fencing is a requirement of the special use permit.

“It’s being treated as if the entire development is a commercial development,” Bartlett Planning Director Kim Taylor said.

Commissioner Jay Caughman suggested that having a long 20-foot-wide walking trail “tunnel”fenced and landscaped on both sides against the backyard of homes could present some issues without proper lighting or access.

“Good gosh, that just sounds to me like a place that’s going to get overgrown and a good place for those 14-year-old kids to be hanging out,” he said.

Ultimately the commission decided to waive the requirement for the fencing in any place that adjoins an existing residential lot that already has a fence.

Grant expects the overall project to take five years to complete, with more than 700 new direct and in-direct jobs associated with the work and another 1,300-plus for construction.

Next the developer will seek approval from the Design Review Commission, and there will be subsequent approvals needed for final subdivision and site plans as well as construction plans for each phase.

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