COOKEVILLE – It’s got the location – close to Restaurant Row, close to Cookeville Regional. It’s got the amenities – heavily landscaped, walking trails, green space. And it has the appeal, or so it seems. The Gables at Veterans Drive, a community of new high-end apartment homes, is only one phase into its five-phase development – but it’s filling up fast.
Developer Eric Cherry and partner Tony Johnson of Elite Construction Services, a four-year-old firm, said their locale, East Veterans Drive across from the Putnam County Fairgrounds, was an opportunity “of a lifetime.” They considered building commercial, even mixed use – a commercial/residential hybrid – but with multi-family in such high demand in Cookeville these days, their ultimate decision was considered the conservative choice. It’s paying off thus far.
“We’re the new kid on the block and a small fish compared to (some other developers in town),” Cherry said. “So we wanted to do a niche product, one that would cater to the upper end of the market. We designed them as condominiums with higher-end finishes, similar to a custom home, rather than just another apartment complex. And we’re filling them up faster than we can build them,” Cherry added. “We’ve got so many young professionals and retirees, we felt like there was pent up demand, even though there’s a lot of new multi-family coming online. The response has been overwhelming.”
Overall, the site is zoned for 350 units, although Cherry said 275-plus is a more realistic number. Remaining units will be built as demand warrants.
“I’m doing it in phases to make sure that Cookeville wants this product – if the market wants it, then I’ll built another phase,” Cherry said. “We were over 75 percent full just in pre-leasing alone before we had even finished the buildings.”
While multi-family has dominated the headlines in Cookeville’s construction headlines, and is definitely a feather in Elite Construction’s hat, that’s not the entirety of their focus. Cherry said they’ve also got 17 custom homes in progress.
It’s all part of the overall optimism he feels for the construction market this year.
“Based on contracts we’ve signed, 2015 will already be the biggest year in the history of my (20-plus year) career,” Cherry said. “We’ve already got projects slated and reserved for 2016. If interest rates remain somewhat stable, I think we’re going to continue to see a very ambitious year for the entire construction community and Cookeville as a whole.”